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July 31, 1988

APPLE FACES THREAT OF MAC CLONES FROM HAPPY OF TAIWAN

By CBR Staff Writer

Baker & McKenzie, Apple’s law firm in Taiwan, must be sharpening its pencils. Happy Joiner Co Ltd, a local house best known for its power supplies, has just announced two Macintosh-compatible gate array chip sets and shown a prototype Mac clone at the Taiwan Computex show. The prototype is supposedly not for sale but the company does hope to sell the chips, which include a floppy disk controller to handle twin 800Kb standard Mac drives and a real-time clock with 256Kb of RAM to cope with power failures and a Versatile Interface Adaptor 6522 chip. They were designed to its specifications by a firm that Happy, with a discretion that doubtlessly bows to Apple’s legal reach, declines to identify. But they were made in the US, and finished just before the show. Happy maintains that the chips are perfectly legal, claiming there’s no copyright on gate arrays. Where it knows it’s skating on thin ice is with the software needed to run the chips. This is where it could easily tread on Apple’s copyright prerogatives and Happy obviously wants to stay happy so it isn’t selling any software itself. Instead, it’s looking for people who could write a legal and functionally compatible BIOS. It doesn’t want perfection (that might be too dangerous); something that’s only 20% or 30% compatible would do, it says. Reportedly some major Australian and Taiwanese software houses are interested, and Happy expects to find a source within the year. Whether it will then try bundling the chips and software together and selling them as a piece remains unclear. Taking a leaf out of Chips & Technologies’ book, it says it’s not interested in producing finished goods. It would rather leave that to the cloners in Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, folks with stomach enough, we presume, to face down Apple’s wrath by buying Happy chips and producing compatibles. Happy, however, seems to indicate it might take finished product back to push in Europe and the US, markets it reckons would never buy its chips and try making Macs.

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