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Franklin CX luggable


New Member
Nov 14, 2023
What is the story with the Red Lightning? What is it?
Franklin was trying to complete with the Apple 2C the RED LIGHTING which has almost the same design as the Apple 2C.
The Red Lighting had 4 ports in the rear of the computer where you could plug in different modules for things like the floppy drive.
The Franklin floppy drives had 80 sectors compared to the Apple 40 sectors.


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Experienced Member
Apr 22, 2021
Philly, USA
Oh man that’s so cool you have a Red Lightning. Thanks for sharing the pics. Here’s what Bob had to say on the RL:

Red Lightning​

This was the only system to actually get prototypes built, or at least one prototype, which I have in my collection. The idea was to build a machine meant for sale at Sears and other mass market stores. While this seems pretty common nowadays, it was radical thinking at the time, since computers were sold at computer stores with trained personnel.

The Red Lightning was a basic Apple clone, like the ACE-1000, but instead of a cover that could be removed to reveal slots, it had four cartridge slots in the back. Users could buy a disk cartridge that had one or two drives, a serial port cartridge that had a terminal program and RS-232 port, a printer cartridge, etc.

I was the lead software engineer on this product, and while it borrowed a lot of code from the ACE-1000 series, the cartridge system was entirely new. This was one of the times when the hardware and software teams didn’t see eye-to-eye as software wanted status LEDs, DIP switches to set parameters, etc. Hardware guys complained about the cost of an LED and associated resistor… pennies, but if we built hundreds of thousands of machines then those pennies added up quickly.

To the best of my knowledge, there was only one prototype built, which I have, and no cartridges. I spent my last few weeks working on the serial cartridge software.