Some Coleco ADAM printer history plus information on connecting the ADAM to a Laser or Ink Jet printer
When the ColecoVision was released in August of 1982 it had a front expansion module interface for a coming soon home computer system. I never knew the computer for the ColecoVision when released would be called the ADAM computer. Coleco could have named their computer just about anything and if the specs would have been the same I would still have purchased the computer.
When Expansion module #3 the ADAM computer was released for the ColecoVision on October of 1983, Coleco bundled the ADAM computer with a letter quality Daisy wheel printer that offers better letter quality resolution when compared to a Dot Matrix printer. The two negatives about the Coleco ADAM printer is that it made a lot of noise when one printed on the printer. In addition, the other problem with the Coleco ADAM printer especially the earlier generation is that it would overheat from having the entire computer system power supply built into the printer. Later on some third party companies came out with a power supply that did not require the ADAM printer connected, and some third party ADAM power supplies had a DB9 jack on the power supply so that the ADAM printer could be connected and the third party ADAM power supply would power the Coleco ADAM printer (Also that design kept the printer cool since the internal power supply in the printer never needed to be used again).
Back in 1983 and 1984 some of the first Coleco ADAM owners were happy with the letter quality Daisy Wheel printers print quality at 120 words per minute. However, the Coleco ADAM printer made a lot of noise, plus some people wanted to own a Dot Matrix printer for graphics printing and faster lower quality draft mode printing that was below letter quality. Therefore, Coleco designed one or two fully functional serial/parallel ADAMNET interfaces that were only used by inhouse Coleco employees. The advantage of this product is that since one was using ADAMNET no printer patching software needed to be created. Any external Centronics parallel printer connected to the ADAM computer would work with all existing Coleco and ADAM third party software since ADAMNET would treat the external parallel printer just like the original Coleco ADAM printer. However there is one problem, this very important Coleco ADAMNET serial/parallel interface that most likely would have been released in late 1985 was canceled since Coleco made a business decision and left the home computer and videogame business in January of 1985. To this day no ADAMNET serial/parallel product exists on the market except in a select few former Coleco employee homes.
Soon after Coleco stopped manufacturing the Coleco ADAM computer in January 1985, a lot of third party hardware and software companies stepped in to support the ADAM community
Eve Electronics and others came out with serial and parallel interfaces and with a software patch one could use a Dot Matrix or Laser printer on the ADAM computer for the very first time. Plus instead of using an original Coleco 300 baud modem, one now could use a external serial Hayes compatible modem up to 19,200 baud (Most people used 1200 and 2400 baud modems on the ADAM computer when they got rid of their original 300 baud Coleco internal modem. While others used 9600 and 19200 baud Hayes modems as technology improved).
To this day the best interface device created by a third party company was the Micro Innovations MIB3 card that plugged into the second slot of the ADAM computer and offered 2 serial outputs and one parallel printer output. Plus there was a eprom socket so one could plug in products like Walter Software’s ADAM’s Desktop which would instantly boot to override the built in Smartwriter program. With the Micro Innovations MIB3 card one could have a Centronics Laser printer, 19,200 baud modem and an external 80 column terminal connected (All 3 devices connected at the exact same time). Not bad for a 1983 computer.
In the year 2018+ the Coleco ADAM computer can no longer be connected to a modern Laser and Ink Jet printer because of the 100% USB issue and not being able to emulate more modern printer languages
In the 80’s people used both Laser and Dot Matrix printers with their ADAM computer and later on people started using Ink Jet printers also. As far as I am aware there was never any software developed for the ADAM that would allow the full function of a color Laser or color Ink Jet printer to be used. Even on my modern high end X99 Intel PC I built in 2015 I only have a $200 HP black and white Laser printer connected since I do not print that often and black and white printing is a lot more economical when compared to color printing. In addition, I prefer a Laser printer when compared to Ink jet printers because there is no ink to dry and no smearing with a Laser printer. Also Lasers are more economical and the toner cartridge can sit for several years versus Ink jet printers have cartridges that dry up in 6+ months if they are not used.
I have not used my Coleco ADAM computer for any printing since the early 90’s. I was considering connecting a Laser printer to the ADAM computers MIB3 card so I could start printing again with it. However 100% of all Laser printers and Ink Jet printers in production in the last few years are 100% USB only. No third party company ever developed a USB to ADAMNET interface for the ADAM computer. In addition, all of the parallel to USB adapters are for connecting a parallel Centronics printer to a modern USB computer running under an operating system like Windows. The problem is no one makes a USB adapter designed to connect to a USB printer and then going to a parallel interface. To make a long story short I cannot use any modern Laser or Ink Jet printer since they are all USB only models. Therefore, I would need to hunt down an old discontinued Laser printer that has a Centronics parallel interface. The Laser printer would be used or refurbished most likely, unless I were to pay double the list price for the rare new ones that exist online. However, there is another major problem with connecting a Laser printer; it is my understanding that the Coleco ADAM software patches only use the Epson FX emulation. As far as I am aware no one created software drivers for the ADAM computer that will work with PCL 6 (XL) emulation or PCL 5e emulation. The reason might be that the ADAM computer might not have enough processing power to handle the PCL6 amd PCL 5e printer lanugages. Epson FX takes much less computer processing power and it is my understanding that is the only printer emulation that the ADAM supports.
My family members have several HP Laser printers since back when Windows Vista 64 bit came out HP was the only printer company that offered a Windows 64 bit driver. Almost all other Laser printers on the market back when Vista 64 bit launched had no 64 bit Windows drivers (today of course many years later all modern printers have a 64 bit Windows driver). In addition, I personally like HP Laser printers since we have had their printers for around 15 years and some of the printers are over 15 years old and still working fine. HP Laser printers are very reliable and offer good support. However, no HP printer supports the Epson FX emulation mode. To make matters worse many brands of printers do not support the Epson FX emulation mode. Also almost every printer currently in production dropped the Epson FX emulation mode since all new printers are USB only. The Brother brand of Laser printers use to always have the Epson FX mode but as soon as they dropped the legacy parallel interface they also dropped the Epson FX emulation mode which is required by the ADAM computer. However, to my surprise only one printer company still offers the Epson FX emulation mode when they dropped the parallel interface. The OKI Data brand of Laser printers still all have the Epson FX emulation mode, however the problem is all the new models are USB and the ADAM requires a Centronics parallel printer. Therefore, my point is there is no modern Laser printer in production that uses both Epson FX emulation with a parallel interface. This means my only choice for Laser printers to use with the ADAM computer is to find an older out of production Brother or OKI Data brand printer since only the older models have both the parallel interface with Epson FX emulation. Many times that means used or refurbished.
What a nightmare. I really wanted to use a HP Laser printer but that is not a possibility with the ADAM, so I am not even going to try to connect it. It is too bad a modern ADAMNET to USB interface does not exist for the ADAM. Then with a modern printer driver on the ADAM just about any Laser or Ink Jet printer could be used.
All this classic computer stuff is time consuming.
Edited by HDTV1080P, Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:32 AM.