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The ADAM killed the ColecoVision

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Let's look at the ADAM Computer....

 

Due to the fact that the S.G.M. wafer drive/tapes could not be successful implemented, Coleco had to forgo further development as we all know so the first part of evolving the CV into a full-fledged computer had to be trashed and a new direction set forth. Personally, I think if the S.G.M. with wafer tape drive could have been successfully developed, they would have developed two products:

 

1) The S.G.M. as we knew it and was advertised in magazines. This would have been the low-cost product for people that just wanted to expand their CV and play enhanced "SUPER" games.

 

2) An add-on computer with built-in game wafer drive in the style of the MSX/Vic-20/C=64 (one housing for computer circuit board, keyboard, wafer drive, etc.). Of course, Coleco would have also developed a computer version without the game wafer drive for people that had already purchased the S.G.M. to entice those people to upgrade further... Coleco always covered all possible options.

 

This would have been the ideal setup for them as they would not have had to rework/retrofit/retrain their production lines in their factories, just add to them. When this option failed and the design for the ADAM Computer was finally agreed upon, they had to spend untold millions of dollars to rework their factories and train their employees. This can be seen by the huge hit Coleco took in profits and stock prices when production of the ADAM got under way (good ole' startup costs).

 

As far as the finished ADAM Computer, we got:

 

- The best Keyboard that was available at the time and even for years to follow in my and many others opition. Coleco even has the foresight to include a keyboard attachment to place a hand controller in to use as a numeric keypad and cursor control!

- The Daisy Wheel Ptinter which everyone loves to bash because of how loud it was amd the fact the System Power Supply was housed in it. The noise level was a problem, but I heard other Daisy Wheel Printers from that time that were right up there with the ADAM's and I also remember having a hard time falling asleep at night when my father was typing up letters on his typewriter late at night... so I completely disregard that beef. Also, a sound buffer box could very easily be built for those that couldn't take the noise level (a professional enclosure was developed and sold by Data Backup starting in 1985 with an On/Off Extension Switch). As far as the Power Supply being housed in the Printer... Coleco had to cut corners and costs somewhere and this is what we got, so if you didn't like it, one could easily remove the power supply from the printer and get a piece of sheet metal to form as a cover and even add a power light indicator. If you took this route, then you didn't have to look at the Printer or listen to it even again. Also in 1985, Eve Electronics came out with the first replacement power supply and numerous other power supplies have been made over the years using various desktop power supplies.

 

will continue on later... if anyone cares!

 

Jim

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Let's look at the ADAM Computer....

 

Due to the fact that the S.G.M. wafer drive/tapes could not be successful implemented, Coleco had to forgo further development as we all know so the first part of evolving the CV into a full-fledged computer had to be trashed and a new direction set forth. Personally, I think if the S.G.M. with wafer tape drive could have been successfully developed, they would have developed two products:

 

1) The S.G.M. as we knew it and was advertised in magazines. This would have been the low-cost product for people that just wanted to expand their CV and play enhanced "SUPER" games.

 

2) An add-on computer with built-in game wafer drive in the style of the MSX/Vic-20/C=64 (one housing for computer circuit board, keyboard, wafer drive, etc.). Of course, Coleco would have also developed a computer version without the game wafer drive for people that had already purchased the S.G.M. to entice those people to upgrade further... Coleco always covered all possible options.

 

This would have been the ideal setup for them as they would not have had to rework/retrofit/retrain their production lines in their factories, just add to them. When this option failed and the design for the ADAM Computer was finally agreed upon, they had to spend untold millions of dollars to rework their factories and train their employees. This can be seen by the huge hit Coleco took in profits and stock prices when production of the ADAM got under way (good ole' startup costs).

 

As far as the finished ADAM Computer, we got:

 

- The best Keyboard that was available at the time and even for years to follow in my and many others opinion. Coleco even has the foresight to include a keyboard attachment to place a hand controller in to use as a numeric keypad and cursor control! It was also nice to be able to freely move the keyboard around or even place on your lap and not be tied down to a stationary place like the TRS-80 and Apple I/II were. You could try resting the Vic-20 or C=64 on your lap, but that would only last so long and then your dealing with the heat being emitted for the unit.

 

- The Daisy Wheel Ptinter which everyone loves to bash because of how loud it was and the fact the System Power Supply was housed in it. The noise level was a problem, but I heard other Daisy Wheel Printers from that time that were right up there with the ADAM's and I also remember having a hard time falling asleep at night when my father was typing up letters on his typewriter late at night... so I completely disregard that beef. Also, a sound buffer box could very easily be built for those that couldn't take the noise level (a professional enclosure was developed and sold by Data Backup starting in 1985 with an On/Off Extension Switch). As far as the Power Supply being housed in the Printer... Coleco had to cut corners and costs somewhere and this is what we got, so if you didn't like it, one could easily remove the power supply from the printer and get a piece of sheet metal to form as a cover and even add a power light. If you took this route, then you didn't have to look at the Printer or listen to it ever again. Also in 1985, Eve Electronics came out with the first replacement power supply and numerous other power supplies have been made over the years using various desktop power supplies. Last, but not least, does anyone recall how expensive a GOOD dot matrix printer was back in 1983? How about a Daisy Wheel Printer? Let's not forget that if your computer didn't come with a built-in parallel or serial interface, this was another expense incurred!

 

will continue on later...

 

Jim

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continuing on with the ADAM Computer:

 

Before I get into the heart and soul, the Memory Console, I'd like to talk about other items that were included with the system that are sometimes overlooked.

 

- The purchaser received TWO hand controllers with the Stand-Alone version of the ADAM, the Exp. Mod. #3 did not include controllers due to the simple fact that you used the black controllers included with the CV and this was reflected in the price difference between the two versions. I personally do not recall any other computer system including 1 controller as a pack-in, let alone 2, and a number of console systems only included 1 controller.

 

- You received the Super Game version of "Buck Rogers: Planet of Doom", something Coleco could have easily held out of the package and sold for $30.00 or more like their other Super Games.

 

- You received Coleco's version of the Basic Programming Language titled SmartBASIC on Data Pack. They (Lazer MicroSytems) were not allowed the necessary time to debug it, but as a whole it was a decent version of Basic that was hampered by a poorly written manual that was fairly quickly revised. Coleco's insistance on SmartBASIC being AppleBasic compatible was a smart decision when you consider how many kids were learning Basic on Apples at school, but once again due to time constraints Lazer was not able to fully implement everything. Also, Coleco should have made it known more clearly that because of the differences between the two computers (processor, I/O, VDP, OS, etc.) that the compatibility was limited in areas. In short time, the largest majority of bugs were identified and fixed by Peter and Ben Hinkle and others and technical information was made available. One of the biggest shortcomings in my mind was the 31 column display versus a more standard 40 column display (the word processor, SmartWRITER, probably set the precedent here for number of columns). This was done due to the fact that the largest majority of ADAMs were connected to a TV set and not a monitor even though the Stand Alone ADAM had the necessary connections for monitor use, but of course, the Exp. Mod. #3 could only be attached to a TV (until once again Eve Electronics came out with their CV Monitor Mod Kit). Once again, though, the Hinkle's came to the rescue with a 40 column patch program for SmartBASIC and the display on a TV set was fine.

 

- Built into the motherboard were the eproms containing the SmartWRITER Word Processor, a pretty good WP program especially for newbies to computers. The more advanced users were satisifed, but quickly realized it's limitations. Once again, there were a number of bugs in the program, but they were identified fairly quickly and never caused me any harm although others would say differently. Still the inclusion of a full-featured WP program with a computer was unheard of as the basic programming language was usually included. I personally think it was a great idea and it made loading other software (such as ADAMCalc, SmartFiler, Super Games, etc.) a simple matter of inserting the DDP or Disk and pressing the Computer Reset to load instead of having to type in a load command... remember how much fun it was to find the proper file to load on a C=64 if you didn't have the instructions. You could say that Coleco dumbed-down the operation of the ADAM, but I think they made some very wise decisions especially considering who they were targeting the system at. Also, Coleco had plenty of time to resolve these bugs and release an updated version of SmartWRITER on cartridge, but chose never to do so. At least now we have some of the updated SW revisions available to use through emulators.

 

- A blank Digital Data Pack that if bought separately would cost at least $10.00 at the time.

 

- And all the necessary cables, switchbox, etc.

 

Before I go any further, I want to address Eduardo's comment, "the ADAM killed the ColecoVision". The ADAM didn't kill the CV at all, the Stand-Alone ADAM ate the CV and the Exp. Mod. #3 simply mated with the CV. Someone else killed the CV as well as the ADAM!

 

to be continued.

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I find your post interesting Jim. I really found it interesting that you said Coleco waited a couple years to release the ColecoVision. It is too bad that Coleco didn't release the ColecoVision a few years earlier. If they had, they could have invested the money from the additional sales and really had a solid computer and a CV2 all-in-one. Just think how cool it would be if we where talking about a CV2 that could play perfect Arcade ports, or even bigger what if Coleco would have survived and was huge like Microsoft.

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..I personally do not recall any other computer system including 1 controller as a pack-in, let alone 2, and a number of console systems only included 1 controller.

 

Good read but I don't think your above statement is correct. At least as it pertains to a console systems only including 1 controller. It was quite the opposite. The only console at the time (1982ish) that only came with one controller was the Vetrex (that I know of). The OD2, Intelly 1 & 2, Atari 2600 & 5200, Arcadia 2001 and most pong (or stand alone) systems all had two controllers out of the box. Heck, even the 7800, SMS and NES (when first released) came with two controllers. Only having one controller with the system is a more modern cost saving method and that didn't really happen until the 16-bit era. Anyway, very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

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I find your post interesting Jim. I really found it interesting that you said Coleco waited a couple years to release the ColecoVision. It is too bad that Coleco didn't release the ColecoVision a few years earlier. If they had, they could have invested the money from the additional sales and really had a solid computer and a CV2 all-in-one. Just think how cool it would be if we where talking about a CV2 that could play perfect Arcade ports, or even bigger what if Coleco would have survived and was huge like Microsoft.

Thanks Yurkie... I'm not trying to attack anyone and I know for sure I may not have all the facts completely straight, but I guess I'm just tired of the ADAM getting bashed even after all these years. It's hard to listen to some of these complaints especially when they come from people who didn't own an ADAM, or if they did, the didn't give it a chance. I got my Exp. Mod. #3 ADAM for X-Mas '83 and the damn thing worked flawlessly 'til the day I sold it and all my other CV and ADAM gear circa 1999... still had the original Digital Data Drive in the Memory Console and the Printer still worked like a champ!

 

If you haven't already, you should order Issue #73 of Retro Gamer as it contains a great 12 page article on the ColecoVision and an extensive interview with Eric Bromley (the father of the CV). A lot of the info in there I had heard already from other ex-Coleco employees over the years, but it was very interesting reading about Eric's experiences.

 

A quote from Eric, "I had started to do the preliminary design and costing for the CV three years, maybe even more, before it's debut in 1982, but it was always shot down as too costly."

 

I personally think that if Coleco had been able to stick it out that they would have developed computers on the lines of the Atari ST and Amiga and not gotten into the DOS world until much later as a last ditch effort.

 

Jim

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I think it's fair to bash any of these systems for their flaws, and the Adam had its fair share. It really was a fairly well designed and competitively powered computer, just not well executed. Coleco's quality control was always rather suspect, and it certainly wasn't up to the rigors of building a computer system like the Adam, which to be fair was in many ways more complex than most other systems of the day for its simple inclusions of an unproven data pack drive and oversized daisy wheel printer with built-in power supply. It's a shame that Coleco didn't simply forgoe the data pack drive completely and just go straight to including a disk drive, and drop the printer. At the very least, they could have offered three packages--one that included the CPU and disk drive; one that included the CPU, disk drive, and printer; and one that was the expansion module that included the CPU and disk drive. That would have given them more of a fighting chance and far less reliability issues. Of course, in retrospect, it was a tough time for ANY "low end" computer that tried to compete in the C-64's domain, so it probably didn't matter what Coleco ultimately did with the Adam.

 

I think we can see in the MSX series of computers how a well executed Adam strategy might have played out and ultimately evolved, but even those really only had success in Japan, and ultimately gave in to the same PC Windows world that everyone else eventually did.

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It's a shame that Coleco didn't simply forgoe the data pack drive completely and just go straight to including a disk drive, and drop the printer.

Weren't disk drives a tad too expensive for regular people to buy on impulse, during the Adam's short retail lifespan? Floppy disks were very, very new at the time, and if I had been in the place of a Coleco exec, I'm not sure I would have jumped at the opportunity to create a disk drive for the Adam, back in 1982. Of course, today we can all agree that it would have been a good move, but that must not have been that obvious back then.

 

The same could be said about the daisy-wheel printer, by the way. Coleco stuck with that instead of going the way of the dot-matrix. It was a good move as far as word-precessing was concerned, but dot-matrix printers could do a lot more, like print text using different fonts, print pixel graphics, etc. Giving the ADAM a dot-matrix printer would have been a good move on Coleco's part, but again, that was probably not as obvious back in '82.

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..I personally do not recall any other computer system including 1 controller as a pack-in, let alone 2, and a number of console systems only included 1 controller.

 

Good read but I don't think your above statement is correct. At least as it pertains to a console systems only including 1 controller. It was quite the opposite. The only console at the time (1982ish) that only came with one controller was the Vetrex (that I know of). The OD2, Intelly 1 & 2, Atari 2600 & 5200, Arcadia 2001 and most pong (or stand alone) systems all had two controllers out of the box. Heck, even the 7800, SMS and NES (when first released) came with two controllers. Only having one controller with the system is a more modern cost saving method and that didn't really happen until the 16-bit era. Anyway, very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

I was just generalizing about computers and recalling how some systems like the Sega Genesis only included one controller when it eventually hit store shelves... I know, quite a number of years later and tha proactice has grown out of hand with later systems and today's incarnations. I can't recall exactly when the NES came out and I bought one... did it include two control pads? Or maybe I'm thinking of the package that included the robot and that had only one gamepad.

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It's a shame that Coleco didn't simply forgoe the data pack drive completely and just go straight to including a disk drive, and drop the printer.

Weren't disk drives a tad too expensive for regular people to buy on impulse, during the Adam's short retail lifespan? Floppy disks were very, very new at the time, and if I had been in the place of a Coleco exec, I'm not sure I would have jumped at the opportunity to create a disk drive for the Adam, back in 1982. Of course, today we can all agree that it would have been a good move, but that must not have been that obvious back then.

 

The same could be said about the daisy-wheel printer, by the way. Coleco stuck with that instead of going the way of the dot-matrix. It was a good move as far as word-precessing was concerned, but dot-matrix printers could do a lot more, like print text using different fonts, print pixel graphics, etc. Giving the ADAM a dot-matrix printer would have been a good move on Coleco's part, but again, that was probably not as obvious back in '82.

 

I don't agree necessarily. We're talking essentially a US company selling primarily to the US market (or North American market to be more specific, since Canada was always important). Certainly in 1982, cassette tapes were still common and disk drives were still on the rise, but very quickly disk drives became the de facto standard (this was NOT the case in places like the UK where the lower cost of tapes was prized over the relative speed and stability of disks). So no, I don't think it would have been an unusual decision for Coleco to charge a little extra for a disk drive, and again, this would have also been at the expense of the printer, which would have cut costs significantly in a variety of ways itself. You're not planning a computer necessarily to leverage that days' (1982) technology, but what will be practical in the near future when the system actually goes into production and beyond. I suspect one aspect of Coleco going with data drives instead of a disk drive had to do with the lure of selling proprietary data packs (which really are just modified cassette tapes), where Coleco would get regular additional revenue. That would not have really been practical with a disk drive.

 

As for the printer itself, how "letter quality" a printer was (meaning typewriter quality) was something all dot matrix printer manufacturers strived for, so yes, I agree that despite its lack of flexibility in terms of graphics, there was nothing wrong per se with the choice of a daisy wheel printer and it could be considered a strong point (though its mass and containing the power supply for the whole system was not). However, as a word processing system, obviously the software in ROM was buggy and saving to data pack could be unreliable at best.

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..I personally do not recall any other computer system including 1 controller as a pack-in, let alone 2, and a number of console systems only included 1 controller.

 

Good read but I don't think your above statement is correct. At least as it pertains to a console systems only including 1 controller. It was quite the opposite. The only console at the time (1982ish) that only came with one controller was the Vetrex (that I know of). The OD2, Intelly 1 & 2, Atari 2600 & 5200, Arcadia 2001 and most pong (or stand alone) systems all had two controllers out of the box. Heck, even the 7800, SMS and NES (when first released) came with two controllers. Only having one controller with the system is a more modern cost saving method and that didn't really happen until the 16-bit era. Anyway, very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

I was just generalizing about computers and recalling how some systems like the Sega Genesis only included one controller when it eventually hit store shelves... I know, quite a number of years later and tha proactice has grown out of hand with later systems and today's incarnations. I can't recall exactly when the NES came out and I bought one... did it include two control pads? Or maybe I'm thinking of the package that included the robot and that had only one gamepad.

 

The NES had a limited release in late 1985 and a wide release in 1986 in the US, and all of the original bundles had two control pads. The original full blown bundle had the console, two controllers, ROBB, the zapper, and two games.

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I think it's fair to bash any of these systems for their flaws, and the Adam had its fair share. It really was a fairly well designed and competitively powered computer, just not well executed. Coleco's quality control was always rather suspect, and it certainly wasn't up to the rigors of building a computer system like the Adam, which to be fair was in many ways more complex than most other systems of the day for its simple inclusions of an unproven data pack drive and oversized daisy wheel printer with built-in power supply. It's a shame that Coleco didn't simply forgoe the data pack drive completely and just go straight to including a disk drive, and drop the printer. At the very least, they could have offered three packages--one that included the CPU and disk drive; one that included the CPU, disk drive, and printer; and one that was the expansion module that included the CPU and disk drive. That would have given them more of a fighting chance and far less reliability issues. Of course, in retrospect, it was a tough time for ANY "low end" computer that tried to compete in the C-64's domain, so it probably didn't matter what Coleco ultimately did with the Adam.

 

I think we can see in the MSX series of computers how a well executed Adam strategy might have played out and ultimately evolved, but even those really only had success in Japan, and ultimately gave in to the same PC Windows world that everyone else eventually did.

Very true Bill, but I think where the bashing should be directed is at Arnold Greenberg and the top executives of Coleco at the time for being too concerned with appeasing the share holders and protecting their own asses instead of holding their ground and seeing what was started all the way through. They delayed for years with releasing the CV system out of fear that it would be too costly and would not find it's niche in the market, boy were they wrong! The CV and cart games ended up being a huge cash cow for Coleco. Then they start down the road of designing a computer in late '82 and early '83 only to rush it to market to capitalize on sales during the X'Mas '83 season without letting their very talented R&D teams hammer everything out properly. For the amount of time that the Eric Bromley's of the Coleco world were given, it is simply amazing to see what they were able to come up with.

 

As far as the Data Drive, I think this was all a result of the time and money that was invested into the wafer drive. Once they game up on the wafer drive being a possibility they looked in other directions and probably already had a huge investment tied-up in the DDD.. so to save face they better make it work in something. Personally, I never had a problem with the DDD being the initial means of storage and retrieval for the ADAM especially since it operated just like a disk drive (albeit slower) unlike cassette decks for other computers of the time and earlier. A disk drive would have been ideal, but would have added at the very least $100 (if it replaced the DDD completely) to the system selling price and the 5 1/4" 160K F.D.D. wasn't even ready when the ADAM came out in late '83. Ideally, Coleco would have delayed the release of the ADAM until early in '84 and this would have remedied a large number of issues: the second and then third revision of the Digital Data Drive would have been available, the print head problem would have been corrected (think only east coast purchasers experienced this one, not completely sure though), SmartBASIC and WRITER would have been better debugged and the revised edition of the SmartBASIC manual would have been included.

 

When I think back to that time period, I recall the three headed monster of Atari, Apple and Commodore (sorry to leave Tandy and TI out) constantly doing battle (in stores, magazines, courts and stealing one anothers personal) and this was the perfect time for Coleco to slip into the fray and take advantage of the large installed base of CV owners and especially the families that were looking to buy their first computer. They had the right idea from the start with the ADAM, an all-in-one computer package, that took all the guess work out of buying a computer (especially for newbies) but they just didn't nurture it through the growing pains. Instead the Execs pushed and pushed to get units built and into the hands of magazines to review prior to the X-mas rush... and we all know how that worked out for Coleco.

 

To take things a step further, if Coleco had succeeded with the release of the ADAM and had taken the computer market by storm along with having the best videogame console on the market... where do you think this would have left Nintendo and Sega? These two companies, as cautious as they were, would have avoided entry into the U.S. market with their own videogame systems in my mind and would have continued to happily license their game titles to Coleco and others to capitalize on the U.S. market. This proposed success by Coleco would have also struck a serious blow to Atari and their computer line. I don't think it would have hurt Apple and Commodore as much, but the heat would have been on to create better and better systems at cheaper prices with another player in the mix and we all (end-users) would have benefited.

 

Hypothetical question: Seeing as it was released about the same time as the ADAM, would you buy an IBM PC Jr. or the ADAM? :-)

 

Jim

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It's a shame that Coleco didn't simply forgoe the data pack drive completely and just go straight to including a disk drive, and drop the printer.

Weren't disk drives a tad too expensive for regular people to buy on impulse, during the Adam's short retail lifespan? Floppy disks were very, very new at the time, and if I had been in the place of a Coleco exec, I'm not sure I would have jumped at the opportunity to create a disk drive for the Adam, back in 1982. Of course, today we can all agree that it would have been a good move, but that must not have been that obvious back then.

 

The same could be said about the daisy-wheel printer, by the way. Coleco stuck with that instead of going the way of the dot-matrix. It was a good move as far as word-precessing was concerned, but dot-matrix printers could do a lot more, like print text using different fonts, print pixel graphics, etc. Giving the ADAM a dot-matrix printer would have been a good move on Coleco's part, but again, that was probably not as obvious back in '82.

The Coleco 5 1/4" Disk Drive cost me about $260.00 when it first came out... maybe a little more. I still remember riding me bike 10 miles to the closest Toys 'R Us to pick this baby up and then also buying CP/M and a number of Coleco carts not thinking that I had to ride home on my bike another 10 miles carrying all this stuff. It was well worth the effort and I rode the ten miles No Hands!

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Wow! Mentioning the NES brought back memories. When I read about it in Darrell Sage's Expandable Computer News I knew I had to have one. I mail ordered it from some place in NY. I remember that I had to call them to order it because they weren't really a mail order company and would only do it if you went out of the way to request it. It probably took another three or four months for them to finally find their way out to the West Coast (California). By then, I had mastered Gyromite with R.O.B. the Robot and Duck Hunt!!! At that time, the NES included a free subscription to Nintendo Power. I still have the first issue of it. They eventually made you pay for it when it became a slicker, glossy magazine and when I called customer service to get my paid subscription going I was shocked to learn I had been like the 8th subscriber of the original magazine. I remember the person on the line said, "You've been with us a long time." I still have the NES...and R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy)...it was..and is...a great system.

 

 

 

..I personally do not recall any other computer system including 1 controller as a pack-in, let alone 2, and a number of console systems only included 1 controller.

 

Good read but I don't think your above statement is correct. At least as it pertains to a console systems only including 1 controller. It was quite the opposite. The only console at the time (1982ish) that only came with one controller was the Vetrex (that I know of). The OD2, Intelly 1 & 2, Atari 2600 & 5200, Arcadia 2001 and most pong (or stand alone) systems all had two controllers out of the box. Heck, even the 7800, SMS and NES (when first released) came with two controllers. Only having one controller with the system is a more modern cost saving method and that didn't really happen until the 16-bit era. Anyway, very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

I was just generalizing about computers and recalling how some systems like the Sega Genesis only included one controller when it eventually hit store shelves... I know, quite a number of years later and tha proactice has grown out of hand with later systems and today's incarnations. I can't recall exactly when the NES came out and I bought one... did it include two control pads? Or maybe I'm thinking of the package that included the robot and that had only one gamepad.

 

The NES had a limited release in late 1985 and a wide release in 1986 in the US, and all of the original bundles had two control pads. The original full blown bundle had the console, two controllers, ROBB, the zapper, and two games.

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I can remember seeing huge Coleco Adam signs in Kay-Bee toy stores back when the Adam came out. Back then the atmosphere was different. For a family, it was easier to justify purchasing an Adam rather than a ColecoVision because the Adam was a computer with a printer, and it could run productivity software like word processing, spreadsheets, etc. as well as the ColecoVision game library. And at the time, computers were real expensive. It's weird that the Adam didn't do better.

 

The ColecoVision was my first system. I got mine in '85. The graphics were great. If Coleco had redesigned their controller to be more like the NES/Sega Master System ones, they probably could have sold more units. ColecoVision/Intellivision controllers were not great.

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I can remember seeing huge Coleco Adam signs in Kay-Bee toy stores back when the Adam came out. Back then the atmosphere was different. For a family, it was easier to justify purchasing an Adam rather than a ColecoVision because the Adam was a computer with a printer, and it could run productivity software like word processing, spreadsheets, etc. as well as the ColecoVision game library. And at the time, computers were real expensive. It's weird that the Adam didn't do better.

 

The ColecoVision was my first system. I got mine in '85. The graphics were great. If Coleco had redesigned their controller to be more like the NES/Sega Master System ones, they probably could have sold more units. ColecoVision/Intellivision controllers were not great.

 

 

Actually, the Coleco Adam was fairly expensive even though it could be considered a complete system (sans a display of course, but it was obviously meant for a TV so it could still be considered complete), so there really was no particular pricing advantage, particularly against the Commodore 64, which had all the momentum by 1984 (much the the chagrin of every other competitor in the 80's in the low end computer market).

 

Also, it would have been impossible for Coleco to have redesigned their controller in the style of the NES or Sega Master System, because the Adam was already "dead" in the market upon the NES's limited late 1985 release and already long gone by the SMS's mid-1986 release. It would have also made little to no difference, as the gamepad wasn't something that consumers expected until the latter part of the 80's anyway. The ColecoVision/Adam controller design really didn't affect sales one way or the other. The only system where it may have had a small impact on sales would have been the Intellivision's, because it was so radically different from everything else out there, and may have potentially scared a few buyers away. With that said, the Intellivision lasted from roughly 1979 to 1991, so that further disproves the theory that a controller would have much of an impact. Beyond the oddity of the Intellivision controllers, the only system where a controller's reputation hurt it would have been in the Atari 5200's case, but it wasn't on the market long enough to matter either.

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I can remember seeing huge Coleco Adam signs in Kay-Bee toy stores back when the Adam came out. Back then the atmosphere was different. For a family, it was easier to justify purchasing an Adam rather than a ColecoVision because the Adam was a computer with a printer, and it could run productivity software like word processing, spreadsheets, etc. as well as the ColecoVision game library. And at the time, computers were real expensive. It's weird that the Adam didn't do better.

 

The ColecoVision was my first system. I got mine in '85. The graphics were great. If Coleco had redesigned their controller to be more like the NES/Sega Master System ones, they probably could have sold more units. ColecoVision/Intellivision controllers were not great.

 

 

Actually, the Coleco Adam was fairly expensive even though it could be considered a complete system (sans a display of course, but it was obviously meant for a TV so it could still be considered complete), so there really was no particular pricing advantage, particularly against the Commodore 64, which had all the momentum by 1984 (much the the chagrin of every other competitor in the 80's in the low end computer market).

 

Also, it would have been impossible for Coleco to have redesigned their controller in the style of the NES or Sega Master System, because the Adam was already "dead" in the market upon the NES's limited late 1985 release and already long gone by the SMS's mid-1986 release. It would have also made little to no difference, as the gamepad wasn't something that consumers expected until the latter part of the 80's anyway. The ColecoVision/Adam controller design really didn't affect sales one way or the other. The only system where it may have had a small impact on sales would have been the Intellivision's, because it was so radically different from everything else out there, and may have potentially scared a few buyers away. With that said, the Intellivision lasted from roughly 1979 to 1991, so that further disproves the theory that a controller would have much of an impact. Beyond the oddity of the Intellivision controllers, the only system where a controller's reputation hurt it would have been in the Atari 5200's case, but it wasn't on the market long enough to matter either.

Ah, the good 'ole C=64! Where the real software pirates were separated from the wanna-bees. Think when I bought mine in '85, I spent around $450 for the Computer and one 1541 FDD. Of course, a couple days later I was back at the store to buy another 1541 FDD because one disk drive just didn't cut the mustard when one had a stack of disks to copy! Remember how many problems people had with the 1541 drives... probably as much as people had with the ADAM's Digital Data Drive. The crazy copy protection routines that were used to thwart piracy didn't do these drives any good either.

 

I'm not overly proud to say this, but I can honestly say I never bought a single C=64 program other than all the utilities (in software form, on carts and even a PCB that installed into a 1541 drive) that were made to circumvent the copy protection routines.

 

Aside from that, I still didn't have a printer (like I did with the ADAM) and a good dot matrix printer cost at least $250 at the time. So all told, the price ended up being comparable to the ADAM's.

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I seriously doubt there were anything close to the problems with the 1541 that people had with the DDP drives. For one thing, the 1541 didn't corrupt its own media on a regular basis. The 1541's were actually sturdy, well-built drives, they were just slow as heck partially because they were intelligent, but mostly because of the port on the Commodore 64 having a design flaw. The Adam's disk drive was a speed demon in comparison, and actually one of the quicker drives in general of the day. Even the DDP was faster than the 1541 in many cases.

 

Not that a single user experience means anything, but I have my original 1541 drive still and it's still in perfect working order, and that thing has seen countless hours of use.

 

As for value, it's all relative, but really, all things considered, the Adam was not a particularly great value at the time over other systems like it was purported to be.

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I seriously doubt there were anything close to the problems with the 1541 that people had with the DDP drives. For one thing, the 1541 didn't corrupt its own media on a regular basis. The 1541's were actually sturdy, well-built drives, they were just slow as heck partially because they were intelligent, but mostly because of the port on the Commodore 64 having a design flaw. The Adam's disk drive was a speed demon in comparison, and actually one of the quicker drives in general of the day. Even the DDP was faster than the 1541 in many cases.

 

Not that a single user experience means anything, but I have my original 1541 drive still and it's still in perfect working order, and that thing has seen countless hours of use.

 

As for value, it's all relative, but really, all things considered, the Adam was not a particularly great value at the time over other systems like it was purported to be.

I was part of a group of about 15 C=64ers back in the day and I can recall at the very least half of them going through multiple 1541's. Could it have been from user misuse? Possible. So when that many people have their drives go bad in such a small group, somethings up! On the other hand, I had two 1541s, as I mentioned previously, and they worked flawlessly for years, but like you said they were slow especially when compared to the ADAM's FDD. Actually owned 4 ADAM FDDs (3 of which were later converted to 5 1/4" 320K, 3 1/2" 720K) and I only ever had a problem with one of them... the photo-electronic cell went bad so I had to shine a flashlight in the channel where the disk notch lines up in order to write to a disk.

 

As far as the value, your right when you say that the original sales price of the ADAM wasn't a particularly great value especially when compared to what you could pice together an Apple II or C=64 for at the time. So by Coleco packaging the ADAM and all it's components in one bundle, they made it seem like you were getting so much more outta the box and this was a good marketing ploy. Additionally, a lot of people appreciated the bundled comcept as it made the decision process that much easier.

 

It's all about the presentation and Coleco was always good at that.. even if it was a lot of smoke and mirrors. :)

Edited by NIAD

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The 1541 drive I bought second-hand over two decades ago is still going strong. It even outlived the 64, marathon disk-swapping sessions with the 80's Ultimas, and hyperactive children. The thing is build like a tank.

 

As for value, it's all relative, but really, all things considered, the Adam was not a particularly great value at the time over other systems like it was purported to be.

 

^ This

 

Add to that the stigma (like Atari lived with) of being decended from a you-know-what machine, and that 8-bit machines in general were on their way out. The interest just wasn't there to support a new player.

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As far as the value, your right when you say that the original sales price of the ADAM wasn't a particularly great value especially when compared to what you could piece together an Apple II or C=64 for at the time.

 

Actually, it's worth comparing...

 

1983: January - Apple Computer introduces the Apple IIe for US$1400.

Yep, $1400 with NO storage devices or printer. It did come with 64K RAM.

 

Coleco Adam Introduced - June 1983 Release Price - $750.00

And that came with 1 DDD (Digital Tape drive) and a Printer. And 80K (64K really) RAM.

 

Now, the C64 was around $200 I think by this time. Even if you added a floppy and a printer, you're still probably around $600 or so... (Memory is a bit hazy there, and I'm too lazy to google those dates/prices..)

 

Suffice to say, the C64 was a better "value." But it was close to the C64..

 

Still, I think the "all-in-one" kept the Adam from competing...

My family couldn't afford $700 to spend on a computer system at the time... But $200 we could do.. So we got a C64.

Then a bit later, we could afford $200 for a disk drive...

Then a bit later again, since we had a disk drive, we could afford WP software and a printer...

 

So, we eventually could afford the system, but not all at once. I don't think we were the only family like that.

 

Now, my friends at school.. many of them had Apple's. (I went to a private HS, which my family couldn't really afford but did.)

They had enough money (well, their parents) for the package, but when you weren't buying "value", you bought Apple or IBM.

 

So, the Adam was stuck in the middle.

 

Now, would it have been different if you could have bought an Adam for $300 with no printer or DDD? (It would have had to have at least standard tape I/O) Maybe... A bit higher than the C64, but (on paper) more RAM and CP/M compatibility (if you bought a floppy).

 

Maybe..

 

I still doubt it tho.. ;-)

 

So, it was a decent deal.. But it was hard to compete with the C64 on value...

That's why Jack was Jack..

 

And it was no Apple II. (It could have been eventually, but they needed MUCH more software for that...)

 

desiv

Edited by desiv
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The CV became a force to be recon'd with in the video gaming industry and was giving Atari very strong competition...

 

The Adam was over promised and was plagued with numerous issues with this stringy-floppy data pak drives, the issue with the EMP Bomb of a power supply in the printer, the cost cutting design that the printer was needed to use the system and the numerous bugs...

 

Knowing all of this - the systems were still shipped to retailers after pressure mounted because numerous deadlines were missed to get the systems to retailers... in the end it was a debacle with returns so high that Coleco was killed both financially and with its reputation...

 

Looking back - if the ADAM had been tabled for another 6 months and Coleco took the PR hit on that instead, and then strengthened further its licensing position and continued to release more expansion peripherals and games, it would've had a strong position in the video game market.

 

 

Curt

In the case of the Adam, Coleco would have been better off not trying at all than doing what they did.

I'm forced to agree with that statement. A simpler add-on module, with a printer sold separately, would have made more sense.

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Consumer Reports did a a good review titled "Home Computers for Word-processing" in the February 1984 issue. Here's the prices they listed:

 

 

Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (64K) $860

(with CCR-81 tape recorder & DMP100printer)

 

Commodore 64 with 1541 disk drive $730

(and printer)

 

Coleco ADAM $700

 

Atari 600XL $650

(with 1010 tape recorder & 1027printer)

 

Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (16K) $620

(with CCR-81 tape recorder & DMP100 printer)

 

Commodore 64 with datasette recorder $550

(and printer)

Edited by ed1475

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Consumer Reports did a a good review titled "Home Computers for Word-processing" in the February 1984 issue. Here's the prices they listed:

 

 

Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (64K) $860

(with CCR-81 tape recorder & DMP100printer)

 

Commodore 64 with 1541 disk drive $730

(and printer)

 

Coleco ADAM $700

 

Atari 600XL $650

(with 1010 tape recorder & 1027printer)

 

Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (16K) $620

(with CCR-81 tape recorder & DMP100 printer)

 

Commodore 64 with datasette recorder $550

(and printer)

Let's not forget that a large amount of people who bought the ADAM already had a ColecoVision, so they bought the Expansion Module #3 ADAM Computer which meant they save about $200 over the Stand-Alone ADAM Computer (which had a built-in ColecoVision and included two controllers, RF switchbox and cable).

 

So when listing the price of the ADAM, we gotta remember to list both incarnations of it:

 

- Stand-Alone ADAM Computer System - about $700 when first introduced

 

- Exp. Mod. #3 ADAM Computer System - about $500 when first introduced and I actually recall getting mine for $450.

 

Also, for all these other computers, you still had to buy the Word Processing program and these weren't that cheap back then and if they were, they were no where near as good as SmartWRITER on the ADAM.

 

Jim

Edited by NIAD

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