12

I owned an Acorn Electron during the 1980s. It was a great little machine, which was still supported with magazines and games until about 1990. However I'm not sure how long the machine was actually in production. My guess is that Acorn would have ceased production of the Electron after its acquisition by Olivetti in 1986. However, Acorn's failure to establish the machine as a serious competitor to the ZX Spectrum during 1983/4 may have meant that production ceased much earlier. Does anyone know how long the Electron was actually in production for?

12

According to The Register’s history of the Electron, production had stopped before the Olivetti cash infusion; in February 1985:

But the Electron, seen to be low on Olivetti’s list of priorities too, managed to hold on. “We will be continuing to sell the Electron this year and hopefully next year as well,” pledged Reid, still interim chief executive and, by the end of February, also company chairman. But it was clear that the company was simply selling off existing stocks of the micro — only if they shifted would more be made. “Whether we will go into production on the Electron again or not will depend on our sales level during the year,” he admitted.

Presumably production stopped at some point around Christmas 1984:

By then, though, the bottom had dropped out of the UK home computer market. The boom was over. Unlike Dragon Data and Camputers, Acorn didn’t go under in 1984, but it struggled. “Whereas the trucks had been lined up at either end of the Wellingborough warehouse delivering and collecting machines before Christmas, after Christmas they were just delivering and the company ended up with £43 million of unsaleable stock,” said Hohenberg.

If trucks were still delivering stock to the warehouse after Christmas, that meant there was still stock coming from the factories. It seems production didn’t start much before September 1983, when the Electron was launched; so it appears it was in production from around September 1983 to around December 1984 — sixteen months in total. Acorn was left with huge amounts of unsold stock which it ended up selling to Dixons (a retailer in the UK) at a loss.

  • 2
    Hence the scene in "Micro Men" when Martin Freeman as Chris Curry looks ruefully into a warehouse full of unsold Electrons – scruss Jul 22 '17 at 15:45
  • @scruss that was a great scene. Whatever happened to all of that overstock I wonder? – cbmeeks Jul 24 '17 at 13:28
  • Sold off, as Stephen Kitt said, to Dixons. They tried to sell them cheap for a few years. – scruss Jul 24 '17 at 13:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.