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At the time it was the least popular Mac for many reasons, but it has survived better than all of the others over the test of time.

 

It was expensive, slow, and it's 9in B/W Screen some considered as an evolutionary stand-still when everyone else was going for color. 4MB of RAM was the same as the Plus so no advantage there. And no internal hard drive and only 800K drives for its first year; for 1/2 the price you could get a Mac Plus with an external hard drive. It left a bad taste for some. And Mac Plus sales were going through the roof. Because of that, the Mac Plus had the longest production run.

 

People thought that they were getting a IIcx in a Mac Plus case with the SE. It was not true until after the SE\30 was released.

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I'm going to go with the SE SuperDrive on this one from TODAY's point of view. Of all the compacts, it's the least flawed from an engineering standpoint.

 

The early Macs had their power supply limitations/problems and lack of expansion. Classics (both models) and SE/30s had the trash can caps. 

 

I give the points to the SuperDrive (or FDHD) model in particular because of the fact USB floppy drives can only use high density floppies. They also didn't have the rat cage fans from the earlier 1987 production SEs.

 

I do like the other models and have a (re-capped) Classic II as my main machine at home, but for the computers I use with the kids, most are SEs due to their durability and the fact they can accommodate 4MB RAM, a hard drive (mod it enough and you can fit TWO hard drives), and even expansion cards for Ethernet if so desired (I do have one but don't have it in use at the moment).

 

Did I mention the Varta batteries? Some are still going strong nearly 30 years later...and all of them were made in a country which hasn't existed since 1989!!

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Can confirm those Vartas last forever. I have 4 SEs that held date\time perfectly before I snipped them out due to age. I've never seen another battery of any kind that's lasted almost 30 years and hasn't leaked or gone completely flat. SE 5 had a dead purple Tadiran iirc.

Edited by Compgeke

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 If the display could do color (or even grayscale), it would've improved it's value considerably.

 

CC, I agree that the SE/30 should have had greyscale as standard on its internal CRT. But you can add Greyscale on the 9 inch display thru 3rd party hardware with the Micron Xceed Video card and its adapter. It's a shame you can't tell if one SE/30 has that option because since the back connector doesn't stick out like most SE/30s do with video cards, because it doesn't have any connectors, it's all internal. It means that some really beaten up SE/30s on the net end up in the trash because no one bidded on them. Some might have had some pretty interesting cards in them...

 

You can also add a color external screen and it will be faster than any LCII or III on the market (except those with PPC upgrade of course). I tried it on mine and it displays color quite fast !

 

PS: In the olden days, some guys tried installing the IIsi/IIci PDS PPC601 upgrade card in an SE/30. It would really be impressive if it worked! If only I had one of those upgrade cards, I would try that.

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For BEST compact Mac, I'd vote for the SE30. For FAVORITE compact, I have to go with my 128K first Mac, the one that got the Dr. Dobbs 512K upgrade, the one that I developed the 1 meg RAM board for and the internal SCSI hard drive for. That machine was sort of responsible for starting three Mac-oriented companies. 

 

For favorite all time Apple, I'd nominate my 1977 Apple ][ which taught me digital circuitry and programming, and brought me into the personal computer business.

 

All these Apples still run, something that can't be said for much 30 to 40 year old consumer electronic gear. Even the two Shugart 5 MB ST506 hard drives attached to the Apple ][ still spin error-free. Apple hardware with a few exceptions is built like professional gear to last, rather than to be thrown out after three years. I do wonder about some of the current models, especially phones, tablets, etc. which cannot be serviced.

 

Preventative maintenance such as recaps and analog board upgrades have been done as needed. The only Apple which doesn't work at the moment is a backlit Portable. Its voltage regulator hybrid circuit is wonky. That seems to be common with that model. Someone needs to trace out the circuit and work out a replacement. The older non-backlit model is OK (all Portables need recapping by now, of course.) I suppose it can be argued that no one in his right mind would bother recapping a Dell...

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Did I mention the Varta batteries? Some are still going strong nearly 30 years later...and all of them were made in a country which hasn't existed since 1989!!

Actually I'm pretty sure those Varta batteries were made in West Germany.  East Germany was the one that ceased to exist, and I doubt that Apple would have been importing batteries from there anyhow, U.S. based companies giving money to Soviet Bloc countries tended to be frowned upon by the authorities.

 

As for my vote on best compact Mac, I'd probably have to say SE SuperDrive - All the reliability of an SE plus a 1.44MB floppy drive which makes transferring files a lot easier.  The SE/30 was more powerful but had those %$^#ing SMD electrolytic caps that eat boards and smell like a dead fish in a hot car (I just finished recapping an SE/30 logic board and a Mac Portable, and the unpleasant odor is still fresh in my mind).  I suppose the Mac Classic is similar to an SE, and the Classic II to an SE/30 but more of those tended to come from the factory with Maxell grenades.

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Hi all,

If I was to answer driven by emotion, I'd have to say the Mac Plus. Lots of fond memories of working with these. I just love opening them up and pulling them apart (which is evident in my YouTube vid from a few years ago). They were a pretty powerful computer in the day, and with the introduction of SCSI and RAM expandability to 4Mb, I definitely think they're worthy of mention.

 

But I'd have to agree with many others and say that the SE/30 is probably the best compact Mac (even if they did cost $7,500 for the base model here in Australia).

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I don't think you can answer that question without some degree of nostalgia bias, sure I always wanted a Mac SE but couldn't afford it so had to settle for a Mac Plus (which I still have all these decades later), maybe its just me, however I don't have the same attachment to all the Mac Pro's and Macbook Pro's I have had since!

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But you can add Greyscale on the 9 inch display thru 3rd party hardware with the Micron Xceed Video card and its adapter. 

Too bad it is literally cheaper to buy a new MacBook Air than what people have been asking for those Micron cards w/ adapters the past couple years it seems :(

 

My favorite compact Mac has to be my SE FDHD :) .  I've had it for over a decade.  Just this year upgraded to 4mb of RAM and upgraded the hard drive from the original 20mb MiniScribe due to not enough space for 7.1 and apps/games, and tossed in a new clock battery.  MiniScribe was still going strong.  I wish I could say the same for the Conner drive I found in my Portable.  Its support for ADB and a rock solid logic board, with a floppy drive that can read 1.4mb disks have definitely played a huge part in making it an affordable and usable machine to this day.

 

The SE/30 and an upgraded Color Classic are also some good contenders, but again aren't true 68000 machines and one requires new caps while the other requires a different logic board.

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I'd have to go the Color Classic II.  That screen, old school connectivity, in a cute little shape, you could add a IIe card, and it finally had the performance to match.  The SE/30 was a beast back in the day, but the CCII trumps it in almost every way.  Rare as hen's teeth, I only have a Performa 250 and it's certainly no speed demon.

 

I get the SE/30 love, but B&W just doesn't cut it for me when talking about the best.

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