The Mac SE/30: Adored by Spies and Psychopathic Geniuses Alike!

Monday, April 13, 2009
Ah, the venerable Macintosh SE/30. Wired recently declared it 'the best Mac ever.' With a 16 MHz 68030 processor, it was many times as fast and powerful as its similar cousin the Mac SE. Essentially, it was the internals of a Mac IIx poured into the diminutive case of a Mac SE, and at half the price. It quickly became a favorite of Mac fans everywhere.

Well, you know who else loved the SE/30? unspecified government intelligence agencies, that's who! The Tempest Mac Model CSI-1891T was a 'black Mac,' not because of its color, but because of its military-grade electromagnetic 'Tempest' shielding, which shielded the computer from passive observation due to electromagnetic signal leakage.

But it's not just spies that adored the SE/30: when the production designers for the film version of Alan Moore's Watchmen needed a computer for supergenius Adrian Veidt's desk, what did they choose? Why, the Tempest-shielded black Mac, of course. This time painted black to match its heritage.

Fun fact: in the old days of Macs, when the faster 68020 processor came on the market, it was put in the new Mac II. When the the 68030 processor was later introduced, Apple dictated that an "X" be added to the end of the model number. So the Mac II became the 68030 Mac IIx. Well, that naming scheme worked fine until Apple decided to upgrade the SE to a 68030. I guess Apple didn't want to try and explain the Macintosh SEx.

Pseudonym: If they wanted to avoid the Mac Sex, they shouldn't have released the 3rd-Generation iMac without some demureifying changes. Rawr.

As for Adrian Veidt, I hereby revoke his title of "smartest man in the world". His password was easily-guessable, subject to dictionary attacks and visible on the spine of a book on his desk (in the movie). Also, his vision is supposed to be excellent, and therefore using the high contrast (invert) mac desktop is in questionable taste at best.

However, I do love the idea of him typing up his grand-scale plans in MacWrite (Chicago font, obviously) and illustrating them carefully in MacDraw.

Eldritch: And the hits don't stop there! On NBC's goofy spy drama Chuck, the valhalla of all government computers, the Intersect, is apparently capped off with a Mac SE/30. Okay, it's not an SE/30. It's a Classic II. But it's almost the same thing. Stupid 16-bit data path.

Pseudonym: This is why vendor lock-in is bad. You start off just getting a PC for say, spreadsheet and financial reports software, and your business grows, and as it grows, you end up requiring backwards-compatibility with that original machine until you have a supercomputer that runs Mac OS 3 while Apple laughs all the way to their moneybin (aka Bank).


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