Franklin Electronic Publishers

Franklin Electronic Publishers

Franklin Electronic Publishers (formerly Franklin Computer Corporation) is an American consumer electronics manufacturer based in Burlington, New Jersey, founded in 1981. Since the mid-1980s it has primarily created and sold hand-held electronic references, such as spelling correctors, dictionaries, translation devices, medical references and Bibles. It is publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol FEP.

In the past, it also made the Rex line of personal digital assistants, such as the REX 5000. That product line was later sold to Xircom.

Early history

Franklin was originally named Franklin Computer Corporation. It was a manufacturer of clones of the Apple II series computer, which it first marketed in 1982.

In early 1982, Franklin released the Franklin Ace 100, and in March of the same year, the Franklin Ace 1000; they were very close copies of the Apple II and II+ computers, respectively. The motherboard design is nearly identical and Franklin also copied Apple's ROMs. Two months later, Apple Computer sued Franklin for copyright violation. Franklin initially won. (See "Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp.".)

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 was still frequently cited more than 20 years after the August 1983 ruling.

Starting in October 1985, Franklin released a second-generation line of Apple II clones, compatible with the Apple IIe and IIc, including the Ace 2000 and Ace 500. Most added more memory and a numeric keypad in addition to 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.

External links

* [ Franklin official home page]
* [ Franklin Remembered, a series of articles at]
* [ After the Franklin affair, Apple added a backdoor into their ROMs so that stolen Apple code could be detected]

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