The BBC Micro was a well-regarded micro with impressive expansion possibilities. However, it was also an expensive micro. To capitalize on the blossoming home market, Acorn released a cut-down version called the Electron. While retaining the educational image of the BBC Micro the Electron was a games machine through and through and in direct competition with the Sinclair Spectrum, C64, and Amstrad CPC.
The Electron had all the BBC Micro's graphic modes, save one, as well as three sound channels, although only one can be in used at a time. It also had extra features such as the tube, econet, user port interfaces. The ability to fit extra ROMs was removed and available as add-on extras.
What was left? The 6502 processor, a better keyboard then the BBC and of course, BBC BASIC. This was the Electron's trump card. Well known in schools, parents could now buy an affordable machine for the home.
It also could run almost all BBC Micro games, although there was a slight problem with top games like Repton and Ravenskull, which had a smaller play area due to a problem with sideways scrolling. Overall, it had a solid software base at launch.
So, what went wrong? At £199 ($300.00) it was expensive in comparison to its rivals and made the fateful error of missing a Christmas buying season. Production problems meant shortages in the shops, shortages filled by Spectrum, C64, and Amstrad CPC sales. ~ Tony Hetherington, All Game Guide