I was searching on Adam Coleco vision on Google and I came across this post. Seeing all the pictures from Soviet's tapes felt me with nostalgia.
I was born in Uruguay, and my father, an electronics engineer, was a supplier for the Adam business in the country. My father built the tape duplicator that the company used to create those tapes that appear on Soviet's pictures. He also helped with other engineering aspects. I think that he also created the PCB design for those horrible amber/green monitors and helped with the custom power supply since Adams in Uruguay were typically sold without the printer. I was 10 years old and my father died almost two decades ago so my account may be a bit distorted at times. But this is what I recall from my memory:
- The importer who brought the Adam in Uruguay seemed to have purchased containers full of disposed Adam bits and pieces (tape drives on their own, consoles on their own, joysticks on their own). Vans would unload all the components in a room at my father's shop and would form "mountains" of Adam rubbish. Most of the components were faulty; tape drives would not start, or would not read tapes, joysticks would had faulty number pads, etc. It seems to me that the importer bought unsold stock directly from the factory, before any quality checks, because this part I do remember clearly: most components were broken. I think that it took like 3 to 5 broken Adams to put together a fully working one (console, tape drive, keyboard, 1 joystick) ready for sale.
- I had never seen any original "retail" Adam boxes. Again, my guess is that the importer bought untested factory stock rather than unsold retail stock.
- In addition to the factory stock, the importer also had piles (infinite to my young eyes) of Buck Roger's and SmartBASIC original tapes. These piles I had seen at the importer's office (not my dad's). Presumingly, these tapes were overwritten with games and other software using the tape duplicator. The tape duplicator I think would copy 5 or 10 tapes at once. I do not know what the process was, I just remember seeing the duplicator in action at the importer's office.
- Other than SmartBASIC and Buck Roger's, the importer sold a huge catalogue of (most likely illegal, or abandon-ware) games and software. The importer published a printed catalogue in Spanish (with a red cover; I still remember) and produced the tapes with simple bi-chromatic covers. Since most people had never seen an original Coleco cartridge, they assumed this was the way Adam software was released. Luckily, I had all the games I wanted; my father just had to ask his customer, and if any of my Adam's would brake, I would just need to go to the pile of Adam rubbish and test each component until I found a working one. I replaced my tape drive twice and my joystick another three times by just scavenging the Adam rubbish piles at my father's shop. As far as I remember, the cost of the Adam parts was close to zero. The cost of an Adam in Uruguay was actually the cost of scavenging, testing and putting together a working one as far as the importer was concerned. As such, I don't remember any inventory checks. There was just an oversupply of Adam parts all over the place. To me, this situation was more akin to that of the infamous E.T. Atari cartridges buried in the desert. In fact, saying "importer" is sort of a bold statement.
- The Adam as meant for the American retail market included no monitor but a printer that also doubled as a power supply. In Uruguay, the Adam was sold without the power supply, so custom power supply was included, and the console was bundled with a monochromatic phosphorous amber or green monitor. This made the Adam look more like a mini PC. In short, the typical Uruguayan Adam bundle consisted of:
* The Adam console with a custom power supply
* A small (I think 10") Amber/Green monitor
* A QWERTY American non-Spanish keyboard
* A joystick/numeric pad
* Original tapes: Buck Roger's and SmartBASIC
* A game catalogue (red cover) in Spanish
* A SmartBASIC original manual in English (I'm not so sure if this was part of the bundle, I had one at least)
- I am not sure as to why the importer concluded that the monochromatic monitor was necessary. Maybe it was to differentiate it from the Spectrum and Commodore 64 and make it look more like a pseudo-PC. In fact, it did look like some sort of a poor man's XT.
- Most of my friends had Spectrums (or Commodore 64s). My father had a dim view on the Spectrum given its rubbery keys and said that the Adam was much more professional. Years later my father was given a C128 and then I bought myself a TK-90 (Brazilian Spectrum clone) by saving my pocket money and doing errands so that I could trade games with my friends. When I left Uruguay in 1992, I had, at a given point, an Amiga 500, a C128, a TK-90 and still the Adam which was finally inherited by my step sister. One thing I remember fondly of the Adam is that it had proper graphics and sprites in "full resolution". On the C64, multi-colour games ran at 160x200 with rectangular pixels, and on the Spectrum you had colour clashes. The Adam was the most faithful to the Arcades at least for the old games around 1984.
- The custom plastic cabinets to house various components were outside my father's scope so I have no clue about them.
- I learned BASIC on the Adam (and a bit of Logo) and wrote many games. Adam was, with shame, or pride, my first computer.
P.S. Again, my above account are the memories of a 10 year old kid. Surely there could be errors.