Franklin Ace 1200

Franklin Ace 1200 Apple Compatible personal computer was the first legal Apple II clone, manufactured by Franklin Computers Corporation company, US. This model was an upgrade to the Ace 1000 that came with CP/M Softcard and built-in dual drives as standard features. The Franklin ACE 1200 was also the only Apple compatible computer made by Franklin Computers Corporation.

Franklin Ace 1200

Introduction: 1983.

Specifications

  • Processor: MOS/Commodore CPU – 6502. W/Z80
  • Speed: 1.022 MHz.
  • RAM: 48K.
  • ROM: 16K and more.
  • Storage: 1 or 2 integrated 160 KB 5.25″ floppy drives.
  • Expansion: 7 slots. In addition to the built-in floppy drives, the ACE 1200 includes as standard equipment these expansion cards: 80 column text card; Dual Interface Card with serial and parallel ports; video card with color capability (the ACE 1000 is monochrome); processor card with a Zilog Z-80 CPU and with 64K to run CP/M (supplied on diskette).
  • Text mode: 40 x 24.
  • Graphic mode: 40 x 48 / 208 x 160 / 280 x 192.
  • Colors: Monochrome.
  • Sound: 1 voice – built-in speaker.
  • Size: 46 Width x 50 Depth x 20.5 Height.
  • Video: Built in video, various resolutions to 320 x 192 x 16 color. Composite monitor or RF Modulator to TV supported.
  • I/O: Parallel, Serial Joystick, composite video, 8 Apple II compatible slots.
  • OS: Apple DOS, ProDOS, CP/M. the ability to also run all the software for the CP/M operating system.
  • Keyboard: Full Stroke 71 keys.
  • Power supply: Built-in switching power supply unit
  • Peripherals: Apple II extensions.

Discontinuation and Price

Discontinuation: After 1984.

Price: US$2200 (initial price).

Miscellanea

  • Franklin ACE 1200 was notorious for its “gaming” qualities. Users played Computer Quarterback, Ultima series, Oregon Trail, Zork, Castle Wolfenstein, Wiz-type, Burger Time and dozens of other games. But it also helped thousands to learn to code in BASIC, and its software WordStar was perfect for the 80ies. The computer served users reliably.
  • Franklin ACE 1200 was equipped from factory line with a Z80 board, a floppy disk controller board, a 80 columns board and a serial / parallel board that gave it the ability to also run all the software for the CP/M operating system. The box lid plugged the two floppy drives and the keyboard had typematic and lower case ability. The serial / parallel board experienced some compatibility flaws as printers connected to them weren’t automatically recognized by Apple II management software.
  • Franklin machines ran FDOS – Franklin DOS, which was compatible with DOS 3 from Apple, but had a lot of cool features such as built-in RAM disk, disk caching, loadable device drivers, shortened commands, support for hard drives, etc.
  • The box lid plugged the two floppy drives and the keyboard had typematic and lower case ability.
  • The Franklin ACE 1200 is identical to the ACE 1000 (from 1982), except that the ACE 1200 has two built-in floppy drives. The ACE 1100 has only one floppy drive.
  • The serial / parallel board experienced some compatibility flaws as printers connected to them were not automatically recognized by Apple II management software.
  • Being Apple II-compatible, the ACE 1200 can handle any programs that run on the Apple II.
  • In September 1983, Franklin lost a trial against Apple for counterfeiting ROM software from Apple II and II+. The Apple IIe, launched later with 2 special keys allowed to distinguish between true Apple and compatible machines. However, Franklin still produced Apple II and PC compatible computers (ACE-500, ACE-2000, PC-8000) for about two years before devoting them to pocket translators.
  • Franklin advertised its machine as follows: “13 Good reasons to buy the ACE 1200: 1. Apple II-compatible;  2. CP/M-compatible;  3. 128K of RAM;  4. Built-in floppy disk drive;  5. Disk controller;  6. 80 column card;  7. Serial interface; 8. Parallel interface;  9. Upper and lower case;  10. VisiCalc keys; 11. Cursor control pad; 12. Numeric pad; 13. Auto repeat keys”.

Source of the photograph: http://www.vintage-computer.com

A Few Words about Franklin Computer Corporation

Franklin Computer Corporation is an American consumer electronics manufacturer (today known as Franklin Electronic Publishers) based in Burlington, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1981. Since the mid-1980s it has created and sold hand-held electronic references, such as spelling correctors, dictionaries, translation devices, medical references and Bibles. It was publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol FEP until September 30, 2009 when it merged with Saunders Acquisition Corporation.

Franklin Computer Corporation was a manufacturer of clones of the Apple II series computer, which it first marketed in 1982, when it released the Franklin Ace 100. In March of the same year, the company released the Franklin Ace 1000. Both the models were very close copies of the Apple II and Apple II Plus computers, respectively. The motherboard design is nearly identical and Franklin also copied Apple’s ROMs. In May 1982, Apple Computer sued Franklin for copyright violation. Franklin initially won.

Franklin followed with the Ace 1200, which included two built-in 5¼” floppy drives and a Zilog Z80 processor for CP/M compatibility—a popular third-party option for the Apple II.

In August 1983, a court ruled against Franklin, which had argued that because computer code generally did not exist in printed form, it could not be copyrighted. Franklin freely admitted it had copied Apple’s ROM and operating system code. However, Franklin was able to get an injunction that allowed it to continue marketing its computers. This case had lasting implications, setting precedent for copyright and reverse engineering. The case is still frequently cited.

Starting in October 1985, Franklin released a second-generation line of Apple II clones, consisting of the Ace 2000 (based on the Apple IIe) and Ace 500 (based on the Apple IIc). These included more memory, as well as offering many features unique to the Apple IIe and Apple IIc, all while undercutting Apple’s price. Franklin’s last Apple II clone, the Ace 2200, sported a detached keyboard and dual internal 5.25-inch floppy disk drives. It was released in the 1987–1988 time frame.

Franklin also released a pair of IBM PC compatible computers, the Franklin PC6000 and PC8000, during 1986–1988. Both were based on the Intel 8088 running at 4.77 MHz. The PC6000 had 512K of RAM and a single floppy drive, while the PC8000 had 640K and dual drives. These matched the most common configurations of the time.

Soon after the Ace 2200’s release, Apple was able to force Franklin out of the desktop computer market entirely, including its IBM-compatible PCs. As a result, the only Apple-compatible computer that remained on the market was VTech’s Laser 128. With the loss of its desktop computer business, Franklin concentrated on its handheld line, which it had introduced in 1986.

In 1987, Franklin released the Spelling Ace, which could provide spelling corrections to 80,000 English words based on technology from Proximity Technology. Franklin also released its Language Master device, which included spelling correction, dictionary definitions and a thesaurus. In 1988, Franklin acquired Proximity Technology. In 1989, Franklin released an electronic version of the Bible in the King James, Revised Standard and New International versions. Johnny Cash was a spokesperson for the company, recording Bible passages for their line of electronic Bibles.

In 1995 Franklin launched its Bookman product line, which came with an installed database and included a slot for plugging in a second electronic book. Prices varied depending on the title. Previously, the Digital Book System (DBS) product was a player only, with two slots for electronic book cards. Franklin collaborated with Bien Logic to create educational titles for the Bookman platform.

Links

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