Acorn Electron

The Acorn Electron version was one of the original versions of Elite and was initially released by Acornsoft in 1984 and then again by Superior Software in 1986.

The following versions of software were released:
- Acornsoft cassette version 1
- Acornsoft cassette version 2
- Superior Software cassette version


v1 Box Cover 300dpi


Cassette Versions

The Acorn Electron version was of the few versions to be released only on cassette.  

The initial Acornsoft version of Elite had a software bug that prevented the Galactic Hyperspace function from working. Acornsoft ran a mail-in offer to replace the faulty cassettes. Some online sources advise that the replacement cassette was marked as V1.1. 

NOTE: The Archives are seeking to substantiate the existence of a V1.1 Acornsoft Acorn Electron cassette so if you have one, please send an image to the Archives.

v1 Cassette 300dpi


Acornsoft corrected the problem for the second release, which can be identified by the "V2" appended to the title. The stock code number remained unchanged as SLG38/C.

v2 Cassette 300dpi


Superior Software released a third version in 1986 which relabelled the cassette to include the Superior Software name. This version is the only one with a single sided label. The other two releases have labels on both sides.

v3 Superior Cassette 300dpi


Acornsoft Boxes

At first glance the boxes for the Acorn releases look identical, and the front of the boxes are. The back of the box has a slight change between versions wherein the second version has additional text added.

Below: The original release box (left) and the updated V2 release (right).

v1 Box Back 300dpiv2 Box Back 300dpi












Below: The updated V2 release had a number of fixes including the following additional comment on the back of box, just in case prospective buyers were not aware of the quality graphics on offer with the Electron version.

v2 Box Back Difference 300dpi


Acornsoft's Updated Electron Release

Inside the box there were a number of other subtle differences between the two Acornsoft releases. Other than the important bug fix mentioned earlier, there were also a number of typographical errors within the v1 Flight Training Manual which were corrected for the second release. These were all related to editorial errors when converting the manual from BBC to Electron as many key functions were reassigned on the electron version. Acornsoft never changed the printing or version number of the updated manual, so it is not immediately evident which version one has. Both manuals claim to be first editions with the stock code number SBG38/B1.Another confusing factor is that the part number is not only the same between Electron versions, but it is also the part number used for the BBC version of the manual.

v1 Manual Cover 300dpi


Other than searching through the pages looking for an incorrect BBC key reference in the Electron manual, you can tell the difference by the type of paper upon which the manuals are printed. The original version is printed on a glossy finished paper, whereas the updated version is printed on a matte finished paper.

Below: Many Commanders may well have been lost in battle as they frantically searched for the 'TAB' key on their Mark I Electron Input Device… The Electron version used the '=' key to deploy the Energy Bomb, unlike the BBC which used 'TAB.' This is one of the typo's corrected in the second release manual.

v1 Manual p33 Energy Bombs 300dpi


Keyboard Overlays and Ship ID Charts

Some other minor points of observation between the Acornsoft versions are that the folds in both the keyboard overlay and the ship identification chart are made differently between the two versions that we hold. This may be indicative of version, or may just be coincidence.

Below: The Acornsoft Acorn Electron keyboard overlay was too long to fit in the box, so it had to be folded. The first overlay (upper) was from our original release and the next (centre) was from our updated release. If you look closely you can see the fold position is different. The final overlay (lower) is from our Superior Software release. 

3x Keyborad Overlays 300dpi


Acornsoft Electron Reference Card

The Acornsoft releases all included this neat reference card which provided an at-hand ship identification chart and inside a summary of the controls used on the Electron.

The Electron version only had five different ships in the game, including the Cobra Mk III piloted by the player, along with five other space objects. These ten ships and other objects are also the only ones shown on the Electron-specific colour ship identification poster.

v1 Reference Card Cover 75dpi


The Order of Elite Postcard

The Acornsoft version included an invitation for Commanders who had reached Competent or higher to apply for membership of the Order of Elite by returning a postcard included with the boxed game. The offer was also in BBC cassette and BBC disk versions, though the colour of the text was different on all three. The BBC cassette version had blue text, the BBC disk version had brown text, and the Acorn Electron version had green text. It is not clear whether the updated Electron release included the postcard as the offer ended in March 1985. 

The offer was only valid in the United Kingdom.

Below: The green Acorn Electron 'Order of Elite' post card showing the address side (upper) and the details you needed to fill out (lower):

v1 Order of Elite Front 300dpi
v1 Order of Elite Back 300dpi


Acornsoft - The Dark Wheel

v1 TDW Back 300dpi

The Dark Wheel, an Elite novella by Robert Holdstock, was included in the Acornsoft boxed sets for both releases of the Acorn Electron version of Elite.

The original version was printed on glossy paper and had "The Dark Wheel   Holdstock   Acornsoft" printed along the right most edge of the back cover. It is consistent with a book that would have a spine, unlike this novella which was simply stapled and folded.

The Dark Wheel novella included in the updated release was printed on matte paper and omitted the pseudo-spine text.

Both had the classic cover by Philip Castle.

Above: The original novella (right) showing printing along what could have been a spine, and the updated version (left) without the additional printing.

Both versions also had the promise of a sequel to the Dark Wheel novella planned for release in 1985. This of course never eventuated.

The stock code number SBG38/B3 remained unchanged between versions.

Superior Software Release

Superior Software released the re-badged Acorn Electron version in 1986. The Superior Software releases were not typically superior in terms of the extras included in the box. Unlike the Acornsoft releases, Superior Software omitted a number of things like the Dark Wheel novella, ship identification poster, loading instruction sheet and the separate key guide. Superior included some items like loading instructions and the key guide as part of the Flight Training Manual,  but the ship identification poster and the Dark Wheel novella were gone.


More updates to this page coming soon including images of:

- Superior Software box
- Superior Software manual
- loading instructions
- The Dark Wheel
- The Ship Identification Chart