The 1983 Coleco ADAM computer is an amazing high-end computer when compared to other computers between 1979 to 1985. For example unique to the Coleco ADAM computer was the Digital Data Drive which was an automatic high speed tape drive that stored 256K of data. Coleco’s automatic high speed tape drive was faster and much easier to use when compared to manual tape drives that the TI-99/4a, ATARI computers, and Commodore computers offered. While I prefer the actual Coleco Disk Drive or Micro Innovations Disk Drive instead of a Coleco Digital Data Drive, I would want a Digital Data Drive over any manual slow tape drive.
The keyboard built into the memory console on most 70’s and 80’s computers was a bad feature. There are some TI-99/4a computers that are still new in the box and some people in 2018 are discovering that some T1-99/4a computers have a generation of defective mylar keyboards that are bad. The problem with the TI-99/4a and most computers from the 80’s is that one cannot replace the keyboard without taking the computer apart. The reason is ATARI, Commodore, and TI-99/4A, and many others built the keyboard inside the memory console inside of separating it from the memory console. Even the Commodore 128 computer has the keyboard built into the memory console. The Commodore 128 has a slower Z80 2Mhz CPU when compared to the ADAM’s 3.58Mhz Z80 processor. However, the Commodore 128 has 80 column color and built in 128K of memory that is better than ADAM’s video output. The Commodore Amiga in July 1985 was the first Commodore computer that was more powerful than the 1983 Coleco ADAM with Amiga's 7Mhz and higher CPU. However, even the top of the line Amiga computers had the keyboard built into the memory console.
Another unique nice feature on the Coleco ADAM computer is the separate components when it comes to a dedicated keyboard being separated from the memory console. This is a concept used by all modern desktop computers running the Windows operating system. They use either a PS/2 or USB keyboard. Coleco’s 6 pin ADAMNet keyboard that connected to the ADAM memory console was a very smart and state of the art concept for a 1983 computer. If the keyboard became defective one just purchased a replacement keyboard directly from Coleco instead of having to buy a new computer or send the computer in to get serviced. At one time one could get complete replacement Coleco ADAM keyboards including outside shell for around $20 and even Radio Shack sold for around $5.99 internal ADAM keyboards for those that wanted to take their ADAM keyboard shell apart and pop in a new keyboard. Of course now used ADAM keyboards in 2018 are rare and sometimes used ones sale for around $90+. Another unique feature on the ADAM keyboard was the Smartkeys that are comparable to the function keys on a modern Windows keyboard. In addition, the Coleco ADAM computer had its own keypad since the Coleco controller attached to the side of the keyboard and acted like a modern keypad found on today’s Windows keyboards.
In 1983 the Digital Data Drive and the ADAM Keyboard was state of the art compared to what other home computers were offering at the time. Most computers came with a built in Basic programming language. It was a smart decision for Coleco instead to make the Smartwriter word processor instantly loading on power on since it was built in. All Coleco ADAM’s purchased in retail stores also came with 3 Digital Data Packs. SmartBasic, Buck Rodgers, and a blank DDP were always included in every ADAM system. The Coleco ADAM daisy wheel letter quality printer had excellent print quality, however the printer noise level is one thing that hurt the ADAM’s reputation. Back in late 1983 the complete ADAM system cost around $800 and then the Expansion module #3 version for the ColecoVision cost around $600. For under $1,000 the ADAM was a bargain for everything that was bundled with it. However when compared to TI-99/4a, ATARI, and Commodore computers they were more attractive since they were cheaper computers. Perhaps if Coleco would have released the ADAM computer without the printer at a cheaper price it might have been more successful. In addition, if the printer would not have been included maybe instead of Smartwriter word processing being built in, instead the SmartBasic program might have been built in. To this day I do prefer the Smartwriter word processor being built in. Since in the 80’s I used the Smartwriter word processor more than I did SmartBasic. And that was true for many families that owned the Coleco ADAM computer.
It would be nice someday if a ADAMNET to 4 port USB hub interface would be created. Then one could plug in a USB keyboard, 1.44MB 3.5 inch floppy drive, USB solid state drive, USB hard drive, and USB printer.
Edited by HDTV1080P, Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:05 PM.