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Acorn Electron

The Acorn Electron is a budget home computer that was developed by Acorn Computers in 1983. It was designed to be a more affordable version of the company's flagship BBC Micro computer. The Electron was based on the same 6502-based architecture as the BBC Micro, but it was less expensive to produce, making it more affordable for home users. The computer featured 32 kilobytes of RAM and a built-in cassette tape interface for data storage. The Electron was also compatible with most of the software and peripherals that were available for the BBC Micro. It used BBC Basic v2 as it's operating system. The computer had only basic graphics.

  • 160x256 in 4/16 colors
  • 320x256 in 2/4 colors
  • 640x256 in 2 colors

The Electron was based on the Syndertek SY6502A CPU at 2MHz, but it reduced the clock to 1MHz when RAM access occured.

Review of the Acorn Electron

The Electron got favorable reviews in the press, especially about the physical design of the case, which was acording to many, a big step up from the BBC Micro that this computer was derived from. One reviewer noted, "The Electron is beautifully designed and built — quite a shock compared to the BBC. Its designer case will look great on the coffee table."

The keyboard was also considered better than most of it's competitors at the time, comparable to the commodore VIC-20 The machine featured rapic BASIC keyword entry using a combination of the FUNC key with the starting letter of those keywords to quickly type out listings, preventing many typo's.

The Electron was particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where it was often used for educational purposes in schools. It was also widely used by hobbyists and home users, and it was the home computer of choice for many people who could not afford more expensive computers such as the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Despite its popularity, the Electron was eventually discontinued in 1990, due to competition from cheaper, more advanced home computers that were entering the market. However, the computer still has a strong following of enthusiasts to this day, and it remains a popular choice among collectors and retrocomputing enthusiasts.

MOS 6502 CPU

The 6502 is an 8-bit MicroProcessor designed by MOS Technology. The team was led by Chuck Peddle and had also worked on the Motorola 6800. The 6502 is a simplified, but faster and cheaper design than the 6800.

The 6502 was introduced in 1975 and was the cheapest microprocessor on the market. Together with the Zilog Z80, the 6502 helped start the home computer revolution of the 1980s. The 6502 was used in a wide range of devices: the Atari 2600, the 8-bit Atari home computers, the Apple II, the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Commodore 64, the BBC Micro and many others. All used the 6502 or a variation of it.

The 6502 is a 1MHz design, while the 6502A is designed for 2MHz. The 6502A is 100% compatible with the original 6502.

Commodore soon bought MOS Technology, but conitnued to sell the microprocessor to competitors and licensed the design to other manufacturers.

Source: WikiPedia - MOS Technology 6502
Technical Details
Released 1983 Brand Acorn Computers Ltd. Type Acorn BBC/Acorn 8-bit Name Acorn Electron CPU Class 650x CPU Synertek SY6502A @1MHz Memory RAM: 32kB
ROM: 32kB
Sound Chip none Sound 1 channel, 7 octaves Display Chip none Display 160x256, 16 colors
320x256, 4 colors
640x256, 2 colors
Best Color 16 colors Best Graphics 640x256 in 2 colors Sprites none System OS Acorn MOS v1.0
BBC Basic 2.0
Storage External Tape Original Price £199
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Related Media
6502 CPU
Collection of books on the 6502 and compatible CPUs
Acorn / BBC
Acorn Programs Magazine is a British publication covering news, listings, and programming advice for the BBC and Acorn computers.
Acorn User
A magazine covering the early BBC computers to later the Acorn ARM machines.
The 6502/6809 Journal
Acorn / BBC
Acorn Technical and Service Manuals
World Wide Web Links
MOS 6502 CPU Wiki Page
The 6502 is an 8-bit MicroProcessor designed by MOS Technology.