Here is some history about my firsthand experience with Coleco customer service that some people might not know. I first became aware of the Coleco toll free 800 customer service number when I got my first ColecoVision around August of 1982. Before then the toll free number either did not exist or I was not aware of its existence. Therefore, before August of 1982 I normally did not call Coleco since I did not want to run up a long distance bill on my parents landline phone (unlimited local and long distance calling plans for around $50 a month did not become a reality on landline phones until the early 21st Century, around the year 2000). Therefore, some of the Coleco letters and Coleco memos attached, is mainly Coleco customer service replying to handwritten letters that I sent to Coleco, since I did not own a typewriter or computer system with word processor yet. Of course, in October of 1983 when I purchased my first computer the ADAM computer system, I stopped writing handwritten letters and used the ADAM letter quality daisy wheel printer. So beginning sometime around August of 1982 some of the Coleco letters and memos I received were replies to my phone conversation with Coleco customer service using their toll free number. Sometimes different departments handled certain issues and instead of calling one back they took ones name and address and mailed one a letter or handwritten memo. However, there is a possibility that I did write Coleco handwritten and typed letters even after I became aware of their toll free number. However I know for a fact that 100% of the time after I received my ADAM computer in October of 1983 that I never wrote handwritten letters every again, since I liked the letter quality daisy wheel printer with the SmartWriter word processor. My handwriting was terrible to read, and for the first time I was able to use a professional printer to communicate with people and to type reports for school.
When calling Coleco customer service between the years of 1982 to 1986+ they were usually friendly and professional. This was in the days before automated robotic voice prompt machines, and one would always get a customer service person after the phone was answered on the other end. Back then, all the customer service representatives communicated with everyone in English and all the Coleco manuals were only produced in the English language for the United States. In addition, this was before the days of the Internet, and dial up BBS modems only offered limited information online. Therefore in the 80’s I sometimes called Coleco once a month, once a week, and sometimes several times a week on their toll free number. Sometimes one would order products directly from Coleco at full list price if it was a rare item not offered in the local retail store. Other times people would call Coleco for technical help or for questions about existing or coming soon products. When calling Coleco customer service they would many times mail me a free dedicated ColecoVision catalog, dedicated ADAM catalog, or a combination ColecoVision/ADAM catalog and with a price list to order from Coleco directly (I attached pictures of the front covers of the catalogs). Coleco customer service also sent me a few free “Gotta get home to my ColecoVision bumper stickers” (pictures of those are also attached). With my parents help when I turned 15 I got my first motor vehicle learners permit that allowed me to drive a motor vehicle when ones parents are in the car. Then when I turned 16 I got my driver’s license and a used car, however I never did place the ColecoVision bumper sticker on my car.
When calling Coleco customer service they also many times mailed out free “I Love ADAM” stickers and free “I Love ADAM buttons”. I have many official Coleco I Love ADAM buttons and stickers since I have called them many times over the years (The buttons and stickers are also pictured below). Some ADAM owners ended up placing the “I Love ADAM” stickers on top of their ADAM computer memory console top cover. Some people started wearing I Love ADAM buttons at ADAM user groups and other places. However, some people did not understand the I Love ADAM buttons that people were wearing on their shirts in public. For example if someone were to wear the button to church, one would think the person loved the Biblical ADAM. In addition, if one were to wear the button in public they would think that one loved a guy called ADAM since the words “I Love ADAM” are different then the words “I Love APPLE”. The Apple computer was much more popular computer system. Coleco should have designed the I Love ADAM buttons and stickers to say the words “I Love my ADAM computer” or something similar, but they did not do this.
When the ColecoVision game system came out in August of 1982 it was selling for around $200 at retail stores and bundled with the Donkey Kong cartridge. When the Expansion module #3 ADAM computer came out in October of 1983 it was selling for around $600, and the standalone ADAM was selling for around $800. Back in 1982 all the ColecoVision cartridges had a list price of $29.95 (street price under $30). However there was one exception to that rule, back in 1982 the cheapest price I could find the Zaxxon game on cartridge was $50 at several retail stores, and some places were selling Zaxxon for as much as $60. I called Coleco customer service back in 1982 to ask them why Zaxxon was selling for around $50 when according to Coleco literature the videogame cartridge is suppose to be priced under $30. Coleco informed me that because the Zaxxon game cartridge is more expensive to manufacture, that is why it costs more money. Therefore I added the Zaxxon game to my ColecoVision collection for around $50. Later on I ended I getting Donkey Kong Junior on cartridge for the ColecoVision. However after I became an ADAM computer owner (Buck Rodgers the Supergame on Digital Data Pack was bundled with the ADAM), I purchased the new improved Donkey Kong the Supergame on Digital Data Pack, Donkey Kong Junior the Supergame on Digital Data Pack, and Zaxxon the Supergame on 5.25 inch floppy disk.
Between the years 1982-1985+ the ColecoVision/ADAM was the best videogame system on the market in terms of graphics game quality (Also the most powerful home computer on the market). After January 1985 when ColecoVision/ADAM went out of production, Nintendo made a smart business move and on October 18th 1985 released a more powerful videogame system in the USA called the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES had 52 colors and 64 sprites versus the ColecoVision/ADAM’s 16 colors and 32 sprites. Also in 1985 Commodore released two new computer systems that were more powerful than the ADAM computer. The Commodore 128 and Amiga were based on newer and faster CPU’s. However, the new systems used similar design to the ADAM. A little faster version of the Zilog Z80A was used in the Commodore 128 and the Amiga used the faster Motorola 6800 series.
Therefore, by the end of 1985 there was clearly more powerful computer systems on the market when compared to the ADAM computer (And Coleco had no plans on making a ColecoVision II or ADAM II since they lost too much money on research and development for the ColecoVision/ADAM system, plus the bad reputation the ADAM first received when it first launched in 1983.). However many people preferred to keep using their existing ColecoVision and ADAM’s in 1985 since there was a lot of third party support occurring and also consumers became loyal to their very first videogame and computer system.
In January 1985 after Coleco announced they were stopping production on both the ColecoVision and ADAM computer, the price on both the ColecoVision game unit and ADAM computer dropped. Coleco needed to clear out its inventory. Officially, Coleco was selling the ColecoVision game system brand new for $110 directly. In addition, many retail stores were clearing out of the ColecoVision for $99.99 or lower (Which is half the price of original 1982 list price). Some retail stores were selling Expansion module #1, #2, Roller Controller, and Super Action Controllers for around $20 or $30 on clearance. Of course, now a brand new factory sealed ColecoVision system in the 21st Century can run between $500-$1,000+ on EBAY. Back in 1985 game cartridges like Zaxxon were being sold for only $16 from Coleco directly. There were many retail stores in 1985 and 1986+ that were selling ColecoVision cartridges and ADAM programs for around $3-$4+. In 1985 Coleco was selling the standalone ADAM directly to people’s homes for only $299.95 (instead of the 1983 price of $800), also the ADAM expansion module #3 was being sold directly for $199.95 (instead of the 1983 price of $600). In addition, TV auction style info commercials, and retail stores started selling the complete standalone ADAM’s factory new for only $160-$199.95 price range. The complete ADAM Expansion module #3 was being sold factory new for around $99.99. At these prices they were way below what it cost Coleco to manufactory the computers. I think I purchased one extra ADAM at these prices, however I should have been smarter and purchased several ADAM’s at that price for spare parts. Since now ADAM spare parts are going for 10 times those prices. The bare ADAM printer power supply is currently being sold for $99.95 online in 2017 , and some people back in 1986 were able to get a complete Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer with printer new in the box for that price on clearance. In addition, the people that spent $800 on the standalone ADAM when it first came out were getting an older version of the ADAM with more bugs in it. The ADAM computers being sold factory new in the box for $160-$199.95 back around 1986 were the latest R80 bug free version (They had the latest memory console with R80 Smartwriter, they had the latest Digital Data Drives that were more reliable versions, and they had the latest style of daisy wheel printers). Coleco kept making improvements on everything from hardware and software. When they saw a major or minor problem, they would come out with a better version for almost everything related to the ADAM design. Therefore, the people getting the ADAM’s for the cheapest prices were also getting the latest and best quality ADAM’s that had most the bugs fixed.
People that spent $800 for their ADAM computer were more dedicated to spending $200 or more on a disk drive and other components. However, some people that only spent $200 or less on their ADAM computer were less dedicated to spending more money on software and hardware. When the ADAM first came out in 1983, soon after its release several third party companies started developing backup software utility programs for the ADAM. There were many cartridge copy programs that allowed people to make a backup copy of any game cartridge up to 32K in size onto a floppy disk or Digital Data Pack. Several game cartridges could fit on a 1.44MB 3.5 inch disk media. In general, 99% of game rom images could be copied and ran on 1.44MB 3.5 inch disks with no problems. However 1% or less than 1% of game cartridges rom images needed to be either loaded into a minimum of a 64K memory expander or needed to be modified for various reasons to work properly from Digital Data Packs and disks. Since Coleco did not use any encryption or copy protection for ColecoVision cartridges and ADAM software, any Coleco and almost any third party software program could be backed up to a Digital Data Pack or Disk drive. While I am all for people being able to make a fair use backup copy of computer software that they purchased. What was disappointing is that there was wide spread piracy in the ADAM community online on BBS boards and with some individuals at local ADAM user groups around the country. Being able to make a perfect bit for bit backup copy of any ColecoVision cartridge or ADAM software also hurt Coleco’s software sales. One third party company I spoke with, told me that all their software programs are required to have both a cartridge and a disk or data pack installed at the exact same time. By forcing consumers to use a special cartridge and disk at the exact same time for every program, this made it impossible to copy the software since no USB or SD cartridge existed on the market (those were 21st Century inventions). However, since this third party companies releases always had both a cartridge and Digital Data Pack in the package, the software programs cost around $60+ and they stopped releasing products for the ADAM. Other third party companies offered new software for $30+ on disk media. Now Walter’s Software company was known as the best or one of the best third party software developers for the ADAM. Walter’s Software released several programs on 3.5 inch disks. The latest finished elementary operating system created by Coleco was the unreleased EOS 6 which was made available in rom format over the years (The ADAM computers shipped with EOS 5 which has more bugs in it). Coleco was working on EOS 7 but it was never finished (OS 7 was finished according to technical documents from Coleco). Walter Software created EOS 9 operating system for the ADAM which was the best quality operating system. When running Walter’s ADAM Desktop from cartridge or prom, or disk it would install EOS 9 on the ADAM computer. Many of Walter’s Software latest products would install EOS 9 before the program would load. Walter Software used professional Smartkey functions just like the original Coleco programs. In addition, Walter Software and at least one other company used copy protection technology on their 3.5 inch disks so that they could protect their hard work from being copied (This resulted in higher sales and Walter’s Software produced new software for the ADAM up until the early 1990’s).
Coleco’s customer service department was almost always professional and helpful. One time I purchased a game cartridge at the store, and for some reason the instruction manual and game controller overlays were not included in the box. Therefore, I called Coleco’s toll free customer service line, and Coleco mailed me a free instruction manual and game overlays. Back in the 80's I informed some people at a large local ADAM users group about what Coleco did for me. To my surprise some people started abusing the Coleco customer service toll free number. Some people that did not own a game cartridge but had a copy of the rom image on disk or Digital Data pack were calling Coleco up and getting them to send a free instruction manual and game overlays to a game they never purchased.
When Coleco stopped production on both the ColecoVision and ADAM computer in January of 1985, the layoffs started occurring in 1985. There were many stories floating around in ADAM user groups about former Coleco employees that took some unreleased hardware and unreleased software home before they were laid off since they did not want their hard work that they worked on for months or years being destroyed. The unreleased Coleco hardware as far as I know never was developed by any third party company (except of course the OPCODE games Supergame module). However many unreleased Coleco software was released into public domain by former Coleco employees since software is much more easier for a person to duplicate. Anyways in late 1985 someone at one of the ADAM users groups I was at showed up with Address Book Filer on 5.25 inch floppy disk with the official Coleco color disk label (and possible the package itself), and in reality Address Book Filer had only been officially released on Digital Data Pack. In addition Jeopardy was never released by Coleco but someone came to the ADAM user group with a copy of Jeopardy with its original copywrited two screen logo boot screens (A few people at one of the ADAM users groups was good friends with a Coleco employee in New York and was able to obtain unreleased Coleco products (mainly software) ). Over the years there have been several unreleased Coleco and third party programs that have popped up out of nowhere, that most people never knew existed (Like AtariSoft’s 1983 Pacman and Dig Dug for the ColecoVision). Anyways what is funny is that some people in 1985 were calling up Coleco customer service and asking them if they had the Jeopardy instruction manual for the ADAM computer game, since they had the unreleased Jeopardy game. Of course Coleco would say Jeopardy was never released and the instruction manual is not available. However once I heard about a Coleco customer service lady that wanted a copy of Jeopardy for themselves, so they tried to get the caller to send Coleco a copy of the Jeopardy program.
In 1986 when one called the Coleco customer service number, I noticed that there was a lot less employees in the department. Also in 1986 the only thing left to purchase from Coleco was Blank Digital Data Packs, Ribbon Cartridges, and Daisy Wheel’s. Gone were all the hardware and software products (supporting documents are attached to prove this). One time I called several times during a week instead of the usually once a month. When a company or individual has a toll free number service, since they are paying for the call, they also get to see all the numbers that call them using automatic number id technology. One day I got a call from Coleco customer service asking me why I call them several times a week. I was surprised by the call and did not have a good answer at the time (Of course I called to order products, ask questions, and technical help). I guess I was that nerd kid that was also a Coleco fan that sometimes ended up calling too many times. At some point in 1988 or 1989 the Coleco toll free number and customer service department disappeared (toll free number was disconnected). A year or couple years later in the early 90’s ADAM House the biggest third party ADAM dealer was able to obtain the Coleco toll free number. However now the toll free number belongs to some telemarking type company.
Attached are some items from history that some people might find interesting.
Edited by HDTV1080P, Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:17 PM.