After I had left in June 1984, Franklin laid off more and more people until it no longer had a functional engineering department, so it turned to buying designs from other companies (ie, Foxconn).
One of the more interesting machines was the ACE-2×00, where “x” indicated the number of disk drives installed. It was a slick 6502 based unit with a separate keyboard, lots of banked RAM, higher resolution graphics modes and a few other goodies. Dave McWherter was still around and did the EPROM, but for some reason by the time I was brought back as a contractor I didn’t see him anymore. While I was still an employee one of my silly side projects was a screen dump to a printer. Dave had integrated that code into the ACE-2×00 EPROMs.
I was hired as a contractor to write dealer diagnostics and a rolling demo to show the new graphics modes. The new modes allowed an image to be loaded from disk while another page was being displayed, so images changed without the user ever seeing the actual load slowly taking place from the floppy drive. The diagnostics helped the dealers some, but having a computer run it’s own diagnostics is very limited. Oh, there’s a bad chip in some critical circuitry… well, the machine might not run!
Since I was in the office anyway, I’d answer letters (this is pre-email, folks) from user groups. Yes, there were Franklin user groups! One big one was called ACES HIGH in Denver. I’d answer customer questions, write up technical tidbits that the Franklin people could mail to user groups, etc. During one personal vacation, I scheduled a night in Denver and attended one of the ACES HIGH user group meetings and talked about behind the scenes in Pennsauken.
The ACE-2200 was my favorite Franklin machine even though I had almost nothing to do with it.