It takes a special eye to see a junkyard car and envision it as your latest hotrod. The guys at RMC found what they termed a “disgusting” Acorn Electron and decided to restore it to its former glory. The Electron was a budget version of the BBC micro with a 6502 running at 2 MHz when executing code from ROM and 1 MHz when it hit the RAM. Apparently, at least some of the bus was operating at 4 bits instead of 8. Go figure.
The 1982 machine was meant to head off the Sinclair ZX and was set to sell for about £200. However, the machine didn’t catch on like the Sinclair and undersold it by around 20 times with a paltry quarter of a million units.
Powering the machine up showed white raster on a monitor, so it wasn’t running but it wasn’t dead either. The computer had a type of programmable logic chip known as a ULA that replaced lots of interface logic and the guys knew that many common problems wind up being a dirty socket for that chip. When you see the package it is in, you won’t be surprised.
After a good scrub of both the socket and the IC, they were rewarded with a Basic prompt. So electrically, the restoration wasn’t too much of a challenge. Cosmetically, though, there was a lot of work to do and that affords us some great shots of the computer’s internals.
They did replace a few components as long as they had it open. The case stayed a bit yellowed, but at least it was cleaner and by the end of the 20-something minute long video, you can see the computer going through its paces quite well.
If you have one of these machines, it probably doesn’t have WiFi. But it could. You can even get a fully modernized version of its competitor, the Sinclair ZX.