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SE's...The Saga Continues

by Steve Wood



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A good while before I began writing a regular weekly column, I wrote a page entitled SE Saga. It was the story of how we put to use several abandoned Mac SE's. The charm of these machines is irresistible, if you don't have to do all your computing on them. This page is part two of the SE Saga story.

This is what I ended up with at the close of the 1997-98 school year.

SE's multiplying

We have a new principal at our school--not the one that gave some teachers more than one 5400/200 and others an 8MHz SE! He issued a mass cleanup order at the end of the 97-98 school year. Teachers found themselves wondering what to do with their unused SE's. "Put it in a box...or...dump it in Steve's room? He teaches special ed and probably can't count anyway."

The SE's began to appear in my classroom in volume. Some folks asked. Some left a note with the computer. And some were like babies abandoned in a basket on a doorstep. While I'm a major advocate for Macs and using classic Macs, I really didn't even try to talk folks out of it.

Several of the SE's were cleaned up and placed into service during the summer and fall of 98. We began the 1998-99 school year with at least 3 SE and SE/30's online. After a few weeks, I found that it never seemed to work out well to have more than three of the SE's available for regular student use. There just wasn't room for all of them. That allowed me to work with the machines that weren't set up for the kids, getting them ready as replacements or for export to other classrooms. One of the teachers to whom an SE was returned later told me she hadn't used it because it never had a mouse or keyboard! She was thrilled with the few stock programs I'd loaded on it when I returned it to her room.

The SE population was also diminished over the school year by a couple of CRT failures. One morning when I was getting ready for school, I followed my usual circle around the classroom turning on computers. One of the SE's obviously had lost it's monitor. While sad, it was a neat feeling to grab a back-up unit and put it online! 

I'd love to say we went on forever using the SE and SE/30's in my classroom. It just didn't happen. I'd always wanted a Mac IIfx and happened to see a great one on eBay early in December, 1998. About the same time, it became obvious, at least to me, that the PowerMac 7200 couldn't continue to meet my ever increasing demands (printing while running one or more programs). So, I found a PowerMac 7500 on eBay as well and upgraded it with a MAXPowr G3 card. The shipper knew I was a special education teacher and threw in a well-equipped Mac IIsi as a donation! All of that could have begun to stress our classroom wiring, but there was more!

The "loot"In late November an incredibly generous MacTimes reader had written and said: "I have 2 or 3 SE's, and 1 or 2 accelerators for them." Did I want them? I quickly suggested a donation to his local school, but they weren't interested. He'd already tried. So I said yes and offered to cover the postage. Over a month passed without any apparent further development and I forgot about the whole deal. The writer, in the meantime, was busy collecting and cataloging things to donate to my school. The whole story appears in the column, Yes, Virginia, There Are Santa Clauses. For this piece, let me say that donation gave us more classic Macs than I could personally use and many were newer, faster, and better equipped than the SE's. But...they certainly don't have the "cute" factor of the SE. After nearly a year, we are still going to the "donations box" and pulling out parts that we normally would have to order from a parts house.

System Software for the SE and SE/30 is readily available from Apple Computer and other sources. For our 4MB SE's, I generally use System 7.0.1, as it is free. System 7.1 might also work well, but I haven't tried it and there is no free download for it from Apple. The SE/30, like the SE, will run like a champion on System 6, but can also run up to System 7.5.5 with enough RAM! The system software links below are to the various Apple's FTP system directories, rather than direct download links.

 System 6

System 7.0 and 7.0.1  

System 7.5.3
System 7.5.5 Update  

 Systems 1-5.1 from The 512 Club

Once you get a bunch of these charming little computers running, the next task is what software to install. Because SE's typically had 20 or 40 MB hard drives, space is at a premium. One good source of software is (blush, blush) a MacTimes column, Ten Back-to-School Sharewares. Most of the items listed there will work under System 7.1 and many will even run on 7.0.1! The basic stuff we run on almost every SE is listed below. Not listed are the Dinosoft reading and math apps, as Maverick Software was gobbled up by Davidson, who no longer sells such sensible, low-cost applications!

Spell Tutor (450K)

PhrazeCrazePlus (117K)
Alternate download link
Phonic Factory (Sorry! No longer available!)
Math Flash Bash (78K)

Time Teacher (32K)

Board Games (26K)
SuperClock! (for System 7.0.1 and 7.1)
Al Bunny's Typing Class (633K)
ClarisWorks 2.1 or 3.0

There is a happy ending to the story, however. At various times we still have either an SE or an SE/30 in use in my classroom. The other machines were all refitted as best we could and put up for adoption into other classrooms where they'd be used. The refit included a thorough cleaning, and a RAM upgrade to 4 MB for the SE's and 8 MB for the SE/30s. Where possible, hard drives were upgraded, often from 20MB to a whopping 40 or 80MB! Unfortunately, most were equipped with 800K floppy drives (and motherboard controllers). Two machines received accelerators. 

Transparent SECharlie Springer is the owner of the darndest and coolest SE I've ever seen pictured. It's a transparent SE/20! The SE/20 is an unreleased prototype that Charlie got ahold of somewhere. He was kind enough to allow me to use one of the pictures. It's definitely worth a click to go and see his page.

I seem to come back to writing about the Mac SE series over and over. Here are some links to my other columns on the little gems.

Places to go and things to do (for Mac SE's):

Some helpful items for reference and configuration:

  • The Apple Memory Guide (1584K PDF document) lists memory specs and drawings of motherboards for most Macs. Adobe's Acrobat Reader is a free download.
  • Apple Spec is the Apple Specifications Database. It lists system, memory, video, ....specifications for all Apple Macs. It requires FileMaker Pro, but you can download a trial version. The current version is from August, 1998.
  • GURU 2.9 (545K) is a Guide to Ram Upgrades. It's an excellent source when upgrading various Macs and Mac clones. If for no other reason, "The GURU FAQ...or... Mrs. Marciniak wins a Saw Horse," makes for some interesting and entertaining reading.

Update (6/11/02)

Eric Conrad has published several very well illustrated pages on his experiences with an SE/30. See Macintosh SE/30: An Adventure Back in Time.

Send your feedback to Steve Wood

All links checked and updated 6/26/2000
©1998-2002 Steven L. Wood