Franklin PC-8000

The PC-8000 is part of a line of PC clones sold by Franklin Computer from 1986-1988. It was discontinued as a result of the Apple vs Franklin lawsuit that began in 1982.

Franklin Computer, 1982

The majority of Franklin’s business focused around it’s two Apple II compatibles: the ACE-100 and ACE-1000. These were clones of the Apple II and II+ respectively. Now, it’s a bit unfair to say that these are ‘clone’ computers; They are near exact copies of the Apple II, with even the ROMs being carbon copies of those seen in the originals. Knowing Apple, you would think this was a lawsuit waiting to happen, and it absolutely was.

Apple vs. Franklin

In 1982, Apple filed a lawsuit against Franklin Computer, alleging that Franklin had copied major portions of Apple ROMs for use in their ACE line of systems. Franklin admitted that it had indeed copied their software, but claimed that since the Apple II ROMs only existed in binary form, it was not protected by copyright. The court ruled in favor of Franklin, directing Apple to file an appeal. At the same time, another lawsuit just happened to be concluding: Williams Electronics vs. Artic International. This entirely unrelated suit essentially concluded that binary ROMs and software were indeed protected by copyright. This overturned the previous ruling in the Franklin case, and in extent ruled that operating systems were also protected by copyright.

The suit concluded in 1983, ordering that Franklin must withdraw all of its clones by the end of 1988. This included the use of the IBM PC BIOS.

Enter The Franklin PC

This didn’t stop Franklin from trying to continue with its computer business though. In 1986, just two years before their deadline, they released a new line of PC clones: the PC-5000, PC-6000, and PC-8000. Unlike their previous systems, these were not developed in-house. Franklin licensed out the Multitech Popular 500 , a generic PC clone, and rebranded it under its name.

The models differ by memory size and number of disk drives, but otherwise are all the same. The unit I have is a PC-8000, the most expensive configuration ($949.99 in 1986), sold with:

  • 640KB RAM
  • 8088 CPU @ 4.77MHz
  • Two 360K 5.25″ disk drives
  • Standard CGA graphics output

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