Despite the popularity of the Beeb, it was a relatively expensive machine to buy. To address this problem, Acorn introduced a cut-down version of the Model B. This machine was the Acorn Electron.

To download the original brochure as PDF click the thumbnail (1 Mb!)

The Electron was developed by Acorn during 1983, with the aim of releasing it in time for the Christmas rush. In terms of hardware it was similar to the Beeb, and used the same processor, the 6502A, operating system and BASIC variant (BBC BASIC II). However, much of the functionality of the Electron was contained in a single ULA, thus cutting down manufacturing costs. The other main difference between the BBC Micro and the Electron was that the Electron did not have the extra circuitry to display the Beeb's teletext mode. There were also a number of other hardware differences.

Although the basic Electron only came with six ports (power supply in, TV out, video out, RGB monitor out, cassette interface and expansion connector) it was relatively easy to expand, mainly due to Acorn's Plus 1 and Plus 3 add-ons. The Plus 1 plugged in to the expansion connector and added two cartridge slots, a printer interface and the ability to add extra ROMs to the system. The Plus 3 was a complete 3.5" disc drive system that also plugged directly in to the expansion slot. A Plus 1 could then be added using an expansion slot on the back of the Plus 3. This device also came with an uprated power supply unit, to cope with the extra demands made by the floppy drive. Even after the original Plus 1 and Plus 3 were no longer available, a number of other companies, particularly Slogger and PRES, were still manufacturing peripherals that made use of the expansion connector.

In the end, however, the ULA took too long to develop, and the Electron was released too late to take full advantage of Christmas 1983. By Christmas 1984, the Electron has been largely superseded, and it never enjoyed the popularity of its larger brother.

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