Yet Another Restomod Of The Greatest Computer Ever

The best computer ever made is nearly thirty years old. The Macintosh SE/30 was the highest-spec original all-in-one Macs, and it had the power of a workstation. It had expansion slots, and you could hang a color monitor off the back. It ran Unix. As such, it’s become the prize of any vintage computer collector, and [Kris] recently completed a restomod on our beige king. It’s a restored Macintosh SE/30, because yes, we need to see more of these.

The restoration began with the case, which over the last thirty years had turned into an orange bromiated mess. This was fixed with RestOBrite, or Retr0Brite, or whatever we’re calling it now. This was just Oxyclean and an off-the-shelf bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide, left out in the sun for a little bit.

Of course the capacitors had spilled their magic blue smoke over the last three decades, so a few replacements were in order. This is well-trodden territory, but [Kris] also had to replace the SCSI controller chip. Three of the pads for this chip had lifted, but this too is something that can be fixed.

With the restoration work complete, [Kris] turned his attention to doing something with this computer. The spinny hard drive was replaced with a SCSI2SD, currently the best solution to putting SCSI disks into old computers. There are a few more additions, including a Micron Xceed color video adapter, a video card that allows the SE/30 to drive two monitors (internal included) in color.

The current plans are to attach a modem to this SE/30, have it ring into a Raspberry Pi, and surf the web over a very slow connection. There is another option, though: You can get a WiFi adapter for the SE/30, and there’s a System 7 extension to make it work. Yes, we’re living in the future, in the past. It’s awesome.

40 thoughts on “Yet Another Restomod Of The Greatest Computer Ever

    1. Now why’d you go and do a thing like that?

      Nah I kind of understand. Sometimes the workshop just fills up with too much clutter and half-finished projects and you just have to go into this ruthless purge mode. It happens.

  1. I have a dead one – probably very dead as it’s been sitting outside for months, as I can’t quite manage to dispose of it for good…
    Wish I’d had the skills to restore it 10 years ago when I had the time.

    1. Way too big for a Pi – you could fit a pi into the mouse! – and I don’t keep fish. But yeah, that kinda thought is why I’ve not chucked it!
      I nearly built a mini-itx intonit years ago, but needed up going another route.
      The thinkpad keyboard project today made me wonder if I can get the keyboard going as a BT keyboard on my iMac… I’ll dig it out and see if it’s got the keys I need for coding.

      1. With the teensy you could very easily add the keys needed for coding, even if the keys themselves don’t show the pictures of the symbols. You could end up with a multi layered Macintosh keyboard.

  2. I did a restore just like this a few years back although I quite like the 1-bit built-in color rather than those newfangled 8-bit grayscales. I remember the first time I printed a screenshot over AppleTalk/Ethernet/Netatalk and it came out in full color. Of course, it makes sense that all the resources and icons have color versions even if the built-in screen is monochromatic.

    One of these days I’ll make that combination video/Ethernet/PDS logic analyzer card… Still, this looks like a pretty clean restoration. Great work.

  3. Has to be possible to get the R-pi to speak AppleTalk (networking protocol)? If modem noises are not your thing, a null-modem cable to a serial port on the Pi set up with SLIP will get you surfing (slightly faster, too). Ah, it all makes me nostalgic for the good old days. Now where did I put my Ericsson 888?

    1. YES! THIS IS POSSIBLE! I’ve looked into doing AppleTalk with a Pi, and it is indeed possible. You can build the driver, and it is possible to use it as an Apple File Server. Probably as a print server and TCP/IP to AppleTalk bridge.

      The problem is actually wiring it up. I was going to do a ‘hat’ for AppleTalk to make this happen (not much, just an FTDI, basically) and get this running, but I basically lost interest. It’s a not-insignificant amount of work for minimal return, especially if you don’t already have an AppleTalk network in your house. I have enough old macs so that I could make that happen, but… eh. Bigger fish to fry.

  4. Here’s what became of my SE/30 after it destroyed itself inside with a leaking PRAM battery:

    There’s an iPad2 screen mounted where the CRT once was, and a Raspberry Pi3 running the show inside. I could have used the screen in theory, but decided it was not worth the trouble to drive it when all you get is 512×384. iPad2 screen was used as it is 1024×768, and after cropping to fit in a way matching how the SE/30 screen looked, you get 800×600-ish at a not too small DPI. The Retina displays are no good in this regard, they have too high a DPI and you would have to use scaling. Further they need displayport, and the Pi does not have it.

  5. I have an old SE/30 as well, in a zippy case in storage. It’s slated to be tossed along with an old Compaq, a few old CP/M machines, two Canon CATs and some other old junk that no one seems to want. I haven’t laid eye on them in years so I assume the storage locker hasn’t been auctioned off on some cheesy cable show. That said, I love that someone saved one of these beasts and the SCSISD card adapter is pure genius!

      1. I thought those “big money” auctions were just drug lords laundering money.

        (I’ll post this broken Mac, and you bid $10k on it and I’ll ship it to you, then you ship it back to me, and I’ll post it again!)

      1. Speaking [?] of cats, I saw a CueCat at Savers (2nd hand store chain) last weekend!
        First time I’ve seen/held one since RadioShack had them in stock!
        I think they wanted something like $6…
        (no sale)

  6. Moving a window from the monochrome screen to an external color one must have been like when the “Wizard Of Oz” movie suddenly switched from black and white to color! What a pleasant surprise the first time! I cut my teeth in college on a Mac Classic II, which was the little, little, little brother to the SE/30. (Only the rich kids had the SE/30, Quadra, or other fancy pants machines.) I tried to boot it up a few years ago, things generally turned on (much to my shock after 30+ years), but got the “sad mac” icon. Maybe I’ll see if I can get her running again… It’s in nearly perfect mechanical shape.

    1. Look up the definition of the word itself: “having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.”

      Given all blanket prejudice is considered to be a product of fear of something one does not understand, the word is perfectly “cromulent.”

      But please, keep defending bigotry.

      1. It’s intellectually lazy to call the person who called out your bigotry a bigot for understanding and referencing the bigotry in the first place. Like a bully crying about being bullied when they get their bose bloodied by a would-be victim. Nobody outside a school playground buys that bull and an adult should be ashamed of trying it.

  7. Flamboyance, while often attributed to homosexuals in modern society, is JUST an adjective. It stands on it’s own. The use of the word has never, does not currently, nore will ever demand the association with homosexuals.

    The OP has just used a structure that implies both the flower power Mac AND Tim Cook are flamboyant. (Or in the case of a person, has the TENDENCY to be flamboyant). The OP did not imply that his flamboyancey was due to being a homosexual. If he had, the sentence pattern would have also included an inanimate object as being a homosexual.

    You have made an illogical leap based on personal bias, and a misinterpretation of the OPs words due to your own ignorance of language.

    Yes this makes you overly sensitive to a NON-issue.

    (Not to mention T.C. might like being referred to as flamboyant. You don’t know. You don’t know him. He may have a flair for excitement and style.)

    1. It’s disingenuous to ignore the reference to Cook as a factor that ought to make Apple more flamboyant (“Even with Tim Cook in charge, you won’t see that level of flamboyance…”). This is especially true when you consider he’s anything but (Steve Jobs was more flamboyant on stage than Cook; he’s about the least flamboyant tech CEO there is), ehich only underscores the OP’s implication.

      Further, whether Cook “might like” it or not does not change the fact it’s a derogatory dogwhistle reference to Cook being a gay man. “Oh, he likes it” is a rather unflattering and unconvincing go-to argument from those who seek to justify and/or downplay socially unacceptable behavior.

      …but sure, it’s MY ignorance that’s an issue here.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.