Acorn Atom Home Computer


The British company Acorn Computers Ltd was established in 1978, and are best-remembered for the BBC Micro. The Acorn Atom was the company's first venture into the home computer market.

The Atom was launched in 1980 for £120 in kit form and £170 ready-built. It featured the built-in Atom Basic programming language (this was pretty quick compared to other BASIC languages of the time) which had the unique ability of allowing assembly code to be included within BASIC programs. 

The Atom used a MOS Technology 6502 CPU and featured 2kb of RAM and 8kb of ROM, both of which were expandable to 12kb. The MC6487 video chip was also used in the Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer and the Dragon 32/34. It allowed a maximum display of 256 x 192 in monochrome or 128x192 with 2 colours.

The Acorn Atom was discontinued in 1983, being replaced by the BBC Micro.

I like the clean aesthetics of the machine and it looked a lot more robust and professional than that other well-known British computer, although it was nowhere near as successful, of course!

The first video clip in the playlist above features an amateur demonstration of the computer. The next three clips feature some games. In Babies you had to save, erm, babies from a burning building. Stargate is a basic invaders style game and finally the classic Frogger is showcased.

This second-hand book by Trevor Sharples and Tim Hartnell is selling for £40 on Amazon. So, if you have any old computer books or manuals then dig them out, they may be worth a bob or two!