The Franklin Ace 1000 was a result of the popularity of Apple computers. It was a clone that was so close to the original Apple computer that Apple sued Franklin and won in court. Some say it was not just the design that Franklin copied, but the software as well, even down to the copyright. Discover more about the Franklin Ace 1000 here in this short article.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Franklin company was drowning Apple in it. Their Franklin Ace 1000 was an imitation that eventually got them in trouble with the law. The 1000 was a clone that was nearly 100 percent compatible with the Apple II+. Taking a look at the motherboards of a Franklin Ace 1000 and an Apple, they were so close it was pathetic. The only major difference was size. The Franklin was bigger. The Ace 1000 was released in 1982 with the traditional plastic cover and beige color. It looked a bit like a Commodore 128 as well, with the keyboard integrated into the case of the machine. Franklin also made Apple clones other than the Ace 1000, with the Ace 100 and 1200 being other models. The complete system did not come with a monitor and monochrome output was standard. Support for color could be added later. The price for the Ace 1000 was $1349 dollars.
The hardware for the Franklin Ace 1000 began with the 6502 microprocessor. It ran at one megahertz and came with 64 kilobytes of random access memory ( RAM ). There were eight expansion slots that could accept memory from Apple. Some of the other cards that could be mounted on the motherboard were an “Apple Dumpling” printer card, a Hayes micromodem IIe, an 80 column video card, a Z80 card and a disc controller card. The 1000 had an internal 143 kilobyte floppy drive for storage. A cassette tape interface could also be used for storage.
The user manual for the Franklin Ace 1000 was an amusing piece of work. It was designed with “internal” jokes inside. The “geeky computer salesman” in the manual was a reflection of a real person who owned a store close the Franklin factory. The engineering building was called “the Cave” for its long halls without windows. One of the software engineers, Bob Applegate, had a comic of himself working on a “Frankenstein” computer that was included in the Franklin manual. Many people still have their Franklin manuals.
The lawsuit that Apple eventually crafted against Franklin for their clones was a tricky one. Franklin argued that they did nothing wrong in using the Apple operating system, even if it was copyrighted. Franklin simply included the platform copyright with their machines. Franklin was eventually sued for violation of Apple trademarks, instead of the hardware itself. The month of August, 1983 Apple won the judgment in a Federal Appeals court. This caused the Franklin company to later stop making computers. Nevertheless, they crafted two more, the Ace 2000 and the Ace 500 before going out of business.
The Franklin Ace 1000 sells for around $150.00 in good working condition. Not quite as high as the Apple IIe that it’s a clone of which sells for $300.00 to $400.00 and up. Still, it’s a fun computer and makes for a good story line.