Jump to content

Photo

Coleco ADAM printer history and information on connecting a Laser printer


7 replies to this topic

#1 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

HDTV1080P

    Dragonstomper

  • 661 posts

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:17 AM

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.


#2 LoTonah OFFLINE  

LoTonah

    Dragonstomper

  • 524 posts
  • Location:Penticton, BC Canada

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:45 AM

So instead of buying a new laser printer, go to eBay and find yourself an older HP Laserjet with a parallel port.  Or one of the other brands you mentioned.

 

Honestly, I don't know why you're so upset at this technological march that has been occurring since USB was introduced 20 years ago.  It was easier to use, and cheaper than parallel, so of course it was going to take over eventually.



#3 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

HDTV1080P

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 661 posts

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:30 PM

So instead of buying a new laser printer, go to eBay and find yourself an older HP Laserjet with a parallel port.  Or one of the other brands you mentioned.

 

Honestly, I don't know why you're so upset at this technological march that has been occurring since USB was introduced 20 years ago.  It was easier to use, and cheaper than parallel, so of course it was going to take over eventually.

I agree USB 3.1, 3.0, and 2.0 is much faster and a better quality interface when compared to the discontinued parallel interface. Back in 2015 I purchased a brand new HP Laser printer for a new X99 PC I built. That HP printer has only a USB 2.0 port since parallel interface was removed from all new models of printers in the last 3-5 years. The problem is I cannot go out and purchase a refurbished HP Laser printer since according to the specs no HP printer well work with the ADAM computer because of HP not supporting Epson FX emulation. So my frustration is the amount of days and hours of research it takes to interface products like a printer with a old classic 1983 Coleco ADAM computer. If the ADAM computer would have more modern printer drivers then Epson FX emulation would not be needed on a printer. But those more modern printer languages take more processing power and perhaps the ADAM computer is not powerful enough to use some of the more modern printer languages.

 

So my only solution is to find a 5+ year old printer from either Brother or OKI Data. Those two models 5+ years ago have parallel interfaces with the Epson FX emulation mode. This also means unless I want to spend around double the list price it well be a used or refurbished Laser printer most likely. I am also for the latest in technology as long as that technology is better then the old technology. I guess the problem is the ADAM computer in Ocrtober of 1983 is the very first computer I every owned and even when faster and better computers came along in late 1985, I was not willing to upgrade. I actually used my ADAM computer from around 1983-1993 until I switched to a Windows PC.    


Edited by HDTV1080P, Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:36 PM.


#4 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

HDTV1080P

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 661 posts

Posted Thu Aug 2, 2018 8:16 PM

 

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).

 

 

The 1983 Coleco ADAM printer is still working after 35 years. I just powered it on and the 35 year old ribbon and Daisy Wheel are still offering a letter quality print. I cannot say that is true for the many other printer technologies on the market after 35 years. However, there is a bug or unwanted feature in the SmartWriter program and/or all ADAM Printer firmware (This bug or unwanted feature occurs with all Coleco ADAM printers released). Every time the Coleco ADAM memory console is reset the printer advances the paper feed one space. Therefore, after one does several resets of the memory console the paper needs to be reloaded in the Coleco ADAM printer.  

 

I do have one correction to make to my prior post. Most and perhaps all 3rd party power supplies for the ADAM computer did not actually power the ADAM printer. Instead after testing what actually occurs is that the DB9 connector on the side of some third party ADAM Printer power supplies is for connecting of the ADAM printer for data communications only, and the printer remains off as long as the power switch on the back of the printer is off. However, as soon as one turns the printer power switch on (located on the back of the actual printer), what actually happens is the printer well not work unless the power cord is also plugged into the electrical outlet. Therefore, the ADAM printer still uses its own internal power supply when connected to a third party ADAM memory console power supply. Therefore, when one wants to use the ADAM printer they have to still turn it on and use the power supply built into the printer. However, the printer does run cooler when connected to a third party ADAM memory console power supply, because the internal printer power supply is only powering the printer and not powering the entire ADAM computer system.

 

I did notice one nice improvement about the ADAM printer when connected to a third party power supply. The DB9 connector on the power supply is wired in such a way that the bug or unwanted feature where the ADAM printer advances one space after each memory console reset no longer occurs anymore. This is a very nice improvement not to have to reload the paper after several memory console resets.   



#5 towmater OFFLINE  

towmater

    Dragonstomper

  • 537 posts

Posted Wed Aug 8, 2018 9:11 AM

Based on recent history, I'm predicting this leads to an Adam Net to USB cable being sold on eBay very soon.



#6 Milli Vee OFFLINE  

Milli Vee

    Chopper Commander

  • 100 posts

Posted Wed Aug 8, 2018 10:23 AM

Based on recent history, I'm predicting this leads to an Adam Net to USB cable being sold on eBay very soon.

 

Wont work - too much of the processing on peripherals is done on the PC now - there is no stand alone printer that can be accessed with a USB. Also USB does not like the 62.5 baud combined read transmit line - I know - Ive tried to use it.

 

Milli



#7 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

HDTV1080P

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 661 posts

Posted Wed Aug 8, 2018 1:41 PM

 

Wont work - too much of the processing on peripherals is done on the PC now - there is no stand alone printer that can be accessed with a USB. Also USB does not like the 62.5 baud combined read transmit line - I know - Ive tried to use it.

 

Milli

There are a total of two problems to overcome. All new printers use USB only (plus Ethernet sometimes) and the Epson FX emulation printer language was dropped. So even if a USB interface was made for the ADAM memory console one still needs to write a printer driver that handles a modern printer language like PCL 6 (XL) or PCL 5e emulation.

 

Milli Vee if the ADAMNET 62,500 baud is to slow for USB 3.1. 3.0, 2.0, or 1.1 then a USB port that plugs into one of ADAM’s 4 expansion slots could be used. The expansion slots are much faster than ADAMNET (I do not remember the exact speed but might be 115,000 baud). Only Coleco’s original unreleased parallel/serial interface uses ADAMNET, all third party serial and parallel devices designed for printing use one of the ADAM’s expansion slots (most of the time the internal expansion slot #2 and other times expansion slot #4 the external expansion slot). ATARIMAX did make a USB port on their ColecoVision/ADAM 128 in 1 USB Flash cartridge. Maybe someone could create a 32KB printer driver rom image that would use the existing USB port on the cartridge when plugged into the ColecoVision/ADAM (right now the USB port is designed for a Windows PC only). Around 4,096Mb of space would be usable with a firmware update if the 128 in 1 rom image function was disabled.

 

Let’s say someone is able to get a USB port to work off of an internal card that replaces the MIB3 card. Then the major problem is all the ADAM software printer drivers use Epson FX and the modern printers have dropped Epson FX emulation. So a new printer driver would need to be created for the ADAM that would emulate modern printer language like PCL 6 (XL) or PCL 5e emulation. The problem is the modern printer languages require a lot of CPU processing power and the ADAM computer might not be fast enough to handle PCL6 (XL) or PCL 5e emulation.

 

However, in theory there is a way to get a ADAM computer to work with a modern USB printer that uses PCL6 (XL) emulation if all else fails. A hardware designer could make a special external parallel to USB interface box that has a built in CPU. The parallel interface would plug directly into the ADAM's existing Micro Innovations MIB3 card, then the CPU in the special external interface box would automatically convert Epson FX emulation to PCL6 (XL) emulation and then send the PCL6 data out of its own USB port. Perhaps using some type of internal Linux 64 bit operating system that would handshake with a HP Laser printer.   


Edited by HDTV1080P, Wed Aug 8, 2018 1:51 PM.


#8 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

HDTV1080P

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 661 posts

Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 7:26 AM

The 2016 Brother HL-L5000D was the last Laser printer made that has both a parallel interface and the Epson FX emulation mode

 

All the 2018 low end, medium end, and even high-end several thousand dollar Laser printers and ink Jet printers have removed the parallel interface and Epson FX emulation printer language support from the latest models. After doing a lot of research I discovered that the last and best Laser Printer made by Brother that supports both parallel and Epson FX emulation was the Brother HL-L5000D that was released in February of 2016 with a list price of $299.99 (For some reason the models below and above that model number in 2016 did not have the parallel interface jack).  The Brother HL-L5000D has a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi and a print speed of up to 42 page per minute (That would be cool printing 42ppm on the ADAM computer). Also it comes with 128MB of memory which is the maximum amount of memory for the printer. It holds 250 sheets of paper in its tray with a double sided printing feature.

 

In addition, one can use this printer with their Windows 64 bit operating system over a USB connection using PCL6 emulation and then the ADAM would be connected with the parallel printer connection using the Epson FX emulation mode.

This 2016 model Brother HL-L5000D with a list price of $299.99 is out of production and is no longer being made. However some dealers still have factory new and sealed Brother HL-L5000D Laser printers in stock for as low as $176.97 with free shipping. According to the spec sheet even the parallel printer cable is included for free.     

 

This printer can be purchased brand new from New EGG for $194.99 or $176.97 with free shipping from Amazon. Since QTY’s are limited on the printer since its out of production, some dealers have limited purchases to a maximum of 5. Some businesses and government agencies need this Brother HL-L5000D printer for some old 80’s computer systems that require both parallel interface with Epson FX emulation (It’s not just ADAM owners looking for a modern brand new Laser printer).

 

If I get time I might try this Brother HL-L5000D with the MIB3 card to see how well it works with the ADAM computer.


Edited by HDTV1080P, Thu Aug 9, 2018 7:38 AM.





0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users