Slogger's ROMBOX+ Interface Although the Electron is capable of managing up to 16 paged ROMs, Acorn hasn't included any sockets to plug them in and it has been left to third parties to supply the necessary add-ons to take advantage of them.

One of the first companies to produce one was Slogger with the ROMBOX. This has been around for quite a while now and you'll find a full review in the August 1985 issue of Electron User.

Now the Rombox has been upgraded to include many of the features found in the ACORN PLUS 1 along with the old ROMBOX's ability to handle ROMs. It can be considered an alternative to the official Acorn product.

The new ROMBOX+ features four ROM sockets, two ROM cartridge sockets, a printer port and an operating system - on ROM - equivalent to the ACORN PLUS 1's, to control these extra functions.

The unit is similar in size to the ACORN PLUS 1 but not quite as deep, and like the ACORN PLUS 1 it can be plugged into the back of the Electron or ACORN PLUS 3.

Both 8k and 16k ROMs can be used in the four ROM sockets and they can be configured as numbers 4-7 or 12-15 by altering the position of two "jumpers" at the extreme left of the box. The two cartridge sockets are fixed as 0-3 and each cartridge may contain one or two ROMs.

Since there are only four ROM sockets, it's possible to have more ROMs than sockets and this is where Sideways RAM comes in handy.

Slogger's Sideways RAM card may be used in any or all of the four ROM sockets providing up to a maximum 64k of RAM. Although 64k of Sideways RAM is possible, it would be rather expensive.

In addition the third ROM socket can be configured to accept a single 8k RAM chip.

Rom images can be saved to tape or disc and then loaded into the RAM as and when they are needed. It saves wear and tear on the ROMs and sockets.

A utility ROM like Slogger's ELKMAN is useful here since it has several commands specifically designed for loading and saving ROM images.

The ROMBOX+'s Operating System is able to take advantage of any Sideways RAM present to expand the printer buffer from 63 to up to almost 16000 bytes. It is quite intelligent by the way and can tell if you are already using the RAM for storing a ROM image and won't attempt to use it if you are.

The advantage of a large printer buffer is that the Electron can dump all its text in the buffer in one go. The printer will then chug away printing the text in the buffer in its own sweet time while the Electron can get on with something else.

The two cartridge sockets will take standard ROM cartridges such as Acornsoft's VIEW and VIEWSHEET and ACP's ROM adapters.

The sockets are intended to be identical to the ACORN PLUS 1's but I found slight differences.

The sockets in my ROMBOX+ were too small to take my Cumana disc interface and ACP's AP4 would not work.

The unit works perfectly with the ACORN PLUS 3 but if you're thinking of upgrading to an AP4 or a CUMANA DISK INTERFACE, check with Slogger first as you may experience problems. I did with mine yet others didn't with theirs - it's a bit of a mystery.

In addition to all this, there's a Centronics parallel interface at the rear of the unit for a printer.

Most printers can be used with the ROMBOX+ provided they have a Centronics interface and you have a suitable lead.

The ROMBOX+ has all the features of the ACORN PLUS 1 except for a joystick port but also provides four ROM/RAM sockets. It is well worth considering as an alternative to the ACORN PLUS 1.