23 Facts About Acorn Electron


Acorn Electron was able to save and load programs onto audio cassette via a supplied cable that connected it to any standard tape recorder that had the correct sockets.

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Acorn Electron introduced a general-purpose expansion unit, the Plus 1, offering analogue joystick and parallel ports, together with cartridge slots into which ROM cartridges, providing software, or other kinds of hardware expansions, such as disc interfaces, could be inserted.

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Acorn Electron produced a dedicated disc expansion, the Plus 3, featuring a disc controller and 3.

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The introduction of the Electron was seen as potentially leading to competition between Acorn's different models within the schools market rather than creating a broader audience for them, although the potential for more computers in schools, giving more "hands-on" experience for students, was welcomed.

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Production difficulties at Astec in Malaysia delayed the machine's introduction, forcing Acorn to look to other manufacturers such as AB Electronics in Wales and Wongs in Hong Kong .

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Demand for the Acorn Electron was high but only two of WH Smith's London branches had inventory.

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Hohenberg later noted that after the 1983 Christmas season, Acorn Electron deliveries had increased to meet a demand that was no longer there, with the market having "completely dried up".

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Acorn Electron committed to supporting the machine "until the end of 1986", continuing to supply it to British Telecom as part of the Healthnet communications system, with small-scale manufacturing continuing while existing stocks were being run down.

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Availability of the Acorn Electron at discounted prices from 1985 onwards led to increased demand for third-party software and expansions for the machine.

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Since the Acorn Electron provided only a selection of video output ports, a cassette port and the expansion connector, a range of additional expansions were produced to offer ports and connections to various peripherals.

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Acorn Electron described the hardware extension possibilities in promotional literature, giving an RS423 cartridge as an example of this capability of the Plus 1.

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Such cartridge support enabled the Acorn Electron to provide the same functionality as that offered by the expansion ROM slots under the keyboard and on the bottom-left of the BBC Micro B keyboard.

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However, the Acorn Electron models provided both display and reception capabilities, doing so by routing either the RGB or UHF signals through the unit in order to introduce the Mode 7 output produced by the unit, connecting via a cartridge.

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The Teletext display capabilities in the Acorn Electron models exceeded those of the BBC Micro, with one reviewer noting that the enhanced capabilities permitted "black text on a coloured background, something I've always wanted to do on my Beeb".

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The UHF model of the Acorn Electron adapter supported overlaying of Teletext onto video and framing of video.

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Some differences in the memory map of the Acorn Electron meant that BBC Micro software would need modifications to work on the Acorn Electron with AP5.

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An unusual variant of the Acorn Electron was sold by British Telecom Business Systems as the BT Merlin M2105 Communications Terminal, being previewed by British Telecom at the Communications '84 show.

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The Acorn Electron was said to be particularly suitable for deployment in this application in that it had a "large expansion bus", ostensibly making the machine amenable to the necessary adaptations required for the role, together with its "price, and the fact it has a real keyboard".

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Edge connector on the rear of the Acorn Electron exposes all address and data bus lines from the CPU, including the upper eight bits of the address bus, in contrast to the limited selection available via the BBC Micro's expansion ports, with the One Megahertz Bus as the principal mechanism for general purpose expansion on the BBC Micro only providing the lower eight bits of the address bus.

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Acorn Electron ostensibly intended the composite output to be a high-quality output for monochrome monitors, with the RGB output being the preferred high-quality output for colour images.

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Significant selling point for the Acorn Electron was its built-in BBC BASIC interpreter, providing a degree of familiarity from the BBC Micro along with a level of compatibility with the earlier machine.

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Turtle Graphics was a cassette-based product, available alongside Forth, Lisp and S-Pascal amongst the first titles released for the Acorn Electron, featuring a subset of Logo focused on the interactive aspects of the language.

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Acorn Electron software is predominantly archived in the UEF file format.

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