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A look at all the SE models that have come before

Michael Simon | March 14, 2016
The rumored iPhone SE would join a distinguished lineup of special edition Apple products.

Ah, the special edition. Part marketing wizardry, part sales gimmick, it’s a term that’s become synonymous with prestige, a version of something that’s presumably better than the model other people have. Commonly used to describe limited prints of books, expanded pressings of records or improved edits of movies (though Star Wars fans might have something to say about that), special editions add a sense of excitement to things that might otherwise be mundane or old-in-the-tooth.

If the rumors are to be believed, Apple will soon release the iPhone SE, which looks to do exactly what a special edition should: pump some life into a model that’s no longer seen as cutting-edge. While it would be the company’s first crack at a special edition of the iPhone, it would hardly be Apple’s first SE model. Over the years, Apple has made special versions of many of its products, from desktops to laptops to portable music players. Here’s a look at all of them:

Mac SE

Apple’s first SE model didn’t technically stand for special edition, but anyone who bought one would be forgiven for assuming it did. Released in March 1987 as a step-up model to the Macintosh Plus, the SE in its name actually stood for system expansion, as it was the first compact Mac to feature both a Processor Direct Slot on the back for ethernet and accelerator cards, and an extra drive slot on the front.

Credit: Roman Loyola

The Mac SE line lasted for several years, culminating with the SE/30, named after its Motorola 68030 processor. (In other models Apple simply added a letter “x” as a differentiator, but that wouldn’t have gone over so well with the SE, for obvious reasons.)

iMac SE

October 1999 brought major changes to the iMac line: Apple discontinued the slide-out tray in favor of the classier slot-loading drives, added support for its newly released AirPort tech and beefed up its cooling system for a near-silent design. Additionally, it released a new model, the iMac DV, with a more powerful processor, VGA-out port, DVD-ROM drive, and a pair of speedy FireWire ports.

Credit: Roman Loyola

But Apple reserved the top of the line for its first bona fide special edition. Available exclusively in the soon-to-be-iconic Graphite color, the iMac DV Special Edition doubled the RAM and increased hard drive capacity to 13GB for an extra $200. An update at Macworld New York in June 2000 added a 500MHz processor, FireWire and iMovie 2, as well as a gleaming white Snow color.

iBook SE

At the Macworld Tokyo Expo in February 2000, Apple took the opportunity to completely update its line of portable Macs, bumping the specs all around, adding AirPort across the board, and introducing new colors and cases. The star of the show was the Pismo PowerBook, but Apple didn’t skimp on its consumer notebook.


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