Acorn Electron

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The Acorn Electron is a budget version of the BBC Micro educational/home computer made by Acorn Computers Ltd. It has 32 kilobytes of RAM, and its ROM includes BBC BASIC along with its operating system.

The Electron was able to save and load programs onto audio cassette via a supplied converter cable that connected it to any standard tape recorder that had the correct sockets. It was capable of basic graphics, and could display onto either a television set, a colour (RGB) monitor or a "green screen" monitor.

At its peak, the Electron was the third best selling micro in the United Kingdom, and total lifetime game sales for the Electron exceeded those of the BBC Micro. There are at least 500 known games for the Electron and the true total is probably in the thousands[citation needed].

The hardware of the BBC Micro was emulated by a single customized ULA chip designed by Acorn. It had feature limitations such as being unable to output more than one channel of sound where the BBC was capable of three-way polyphony (plus one noise channel) and the inability to provide teletext mode.

The ULA controlled memory access and was able to provide 32K × 8 bits of addressable RAM using 4 × 64K × 1-bit RAM chips (4164). Due to needing two accesses to each chip instead of one, and the complications of the video hardware also needing access, reading or writing RAM was much slower than on the BBC Micro. This meant that although ROM applications ran at the same speed, there was a substantial speed decrease on applications running from RAM.


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