Thanks to this discovery and post by David Friedman at Ironic Sans, I learned of a computer guide unlike anything I’ve ever read. From the post on Ironic Sans:

My family’s first computer was a Franklin Ace 1000. I think we got it in 1983. Franklin Ace computers were clones of Apple II computers, which eventually prompted a lawsuit from Apple and a court ruling that operating systems can be protected by copyright. The computers may have been clones, but the Franklin manuals were definitely original.

I recently found copies of manuals for the Franklin Ace 1000 and its predecessor the Ace 100. They were similar computers, so the manuals share a lot of content in common. Both are pretty incredible.

Friedman’s post considers much of the Franklin manual’s written content and illustrations, and he explains its origins:

The manuals are uncredited, but I figured out that they were written by a guy named Sal Manetta, who later went on to work for Unisys and Intel. He is now retired. I couldn’t reach him, but I did get hold of Bob Applegate, a programmer who was at Franklin at the time. Bob wrote:

“We hired this tech writer guy who knew nothing about personal computers named Sal Manetta. He was the manager of the Publication group. Sal hired a funky artist [Frank someone-or-other] who did most of the drawings of Ben Franklin in the user manual. Sal was supposed to learn about computers like an average person back then, such as reading magazines, talking to salesmen at stores, etc. Sometimes Dave and I would head over to a local place where I used to work (where Franklin discovered me), would “introduce” ourselves to Sal and give him advice on buying his first computer, much to the annoyance of the sales staff there. Sal would get back to the office and tell us what the sales folks said about us once Dave and I left :)”
Additionally, Sal Manetta, has written a long comment at the very bottom of the post.
Beyond recommending you read Friedman’s post, I’ll list some of my favorite parts of the Franklin ACE 100 User’s Manual.
1. Practical applications

Since you’re reading this, some fast-talking salesperson has probably already persuaded you that the ACE will make your life complete. However, if you bought the ACE simply to keep the kids quiet, you’ll be interested to find out how many practical applications there are for your new computer. Dispel those doubts. Put your second thoughts aside and press on regardless! You CAN use your ACE to good purpose.

2. Owning a computer is a responsibility

A personal computer is NOT designed to do all of your work for you. If that’s what you were led to believe, then you’re in for a rather rude awakening. The computer’s role is more that of a flunky, it will take care of the tiresome jobs that bore you to death. The computer’s strengths lie in its ability to perform miserably dull tasks endlessly and accurately, leaving you free to think about solutions to the real problems at hand. The computer will not even do this kind of work by itself, though. It requires your input and your organization of the data first.

3. On vaporware

Programs are easy to come by, but few people can really explain what it is that they have even after they get them. Nobody can tell you exactly what programs are, although everyone seems to be buying them, selling them, writing them, swearing at them, or pirating them these days.

4. A useful mantra

Backup. Backup. Backup. To fail to do so is folly. What’s worth more? The price of a diskette and the time it takes to make a copy, or the time (and/or money) it costs you to replace the data and programs on a diskette that gets damaged? Backup. Backup. Backup.

5. DRM as psychosis

Program manufacturers are natural paranoids. In their zeal to “copy protect” their programs, they tend to regard all customers as potential thieves. They know you’re going to backup their program, despite their best efforts to stop you, and that sooner or later, you’re going to succeed. Once you do, you are a threat, since conceivably you could start to hand out copies of the program like candy to everyone you meet, thereby depriving them of deserved revenues.

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