updated 08:00 pm EDT, Thu May 30, 2013
Still-functioning Mac SE mod preceded Mac Portable by two years
Mobile software developer and former Apple employee Ken Landau was engaged in a bit of spring cleaning when he uncovered a rare find: a still-functional, Apple-sanctioned portable version of the Mac SE created and built by electronics pioneer Chuck Colby in 1987, two years before Apple would begin its own journey into mobile computing with the Macintosh Portable. The Colby Walkmac (as it was known) was the first battery-operated Macintosh, as well as the first portable Mac with an LCD display. At the time, the 13-pound Walkmac sold for around $6,000.
The unit uncovered by Landau is still missing a plug-in hard drive unit and its battery pack, but remains functional. While not as rare as a working Apple I, the portable Mac mod is still considered rare for collector value. It was probably the first Apple-approved third-party "Mac clone," and later units added an integrated keyboard as part of the machine's run from 1987 to 1991. Apple introduced its own Macintosh Portable in 1989, but the Walkmac continued to do well for a while due to a lower price tag, faster processor than the Portable, and the fact that the Walkmac (later renamed the Colby SE30 after Sony threatened to sue over the name) was several pounds lighter.
Thousands of the Walkmac units were sold over the years, and a later model updated the modified motherboard to Mac SE30 status. It originally ran System 6.0.3 but could work with versions up to System 7.5.5. It originally used the Motorola 68030 processor running at 16Mhz and came with 1MB of RAM. Accounting for inflation, its $6,000 pricetag would be about $12,000 today.