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Why did Coleco Scrap the original SGM in favor of the ADAM?

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The Super Game Module is quite an interesting piece of gaming history indeed. Same can be said about the Adam. Both aimed to expand the capabilities of the Colecovision, but sadly, only the Adam got released, and with problems such as half of those sold being defective, the FRICKIN' POWER BUTTON BEING ON THE PRINTER, and arguably the introductory price. The original Super Game Module, however, didn't have half the issues that plagued the Adam, yet was ditched completely some time after it was announced, regardless of how ahead of its time it was. It was an add-on that attached directly into the expansion slot of the Colecovision(something which Expansion module #1 aka the VCS adapter did also) and played its own set of games that came in the form of metal and plastic wafers that could be seen as the precursor to the hucards used by the TG-16/PC Engine. Should Coleco have instead cancelled the Adam and embraced the Super Game Module?

 

 

 

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The wafer thing was totally unreliable, and Coleco wanted to jump onto the family computer bandwagon, so that's why they went with the ADAM.

 

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6 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

The wafer thing was totally unreliable, and Coleco wanted to jump onto the family computer bandwagon, so that's why they went with the ADAM.

 

How unreliable were they usually on a scale of 1-10, and why?

Oh, and the ADAM should have at least had its power button on the console itself and not the printer as well as at least slightly better internal build quality. The ADAM selling only about 100,000 units and half of those sold not working after a short time was no random happening by any means.

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54 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

Coleco wanted to jump onto the family computer bandwagon.

 

This is pretty much the main reason.  By mid to late 1983 most people were playing games on a number of home computers and with the popularity of the offerings from Commodore, Apple, Atari, and Texas Instruments, for example, most people were migrating from console games to home computers. The original SGM would have been pretty much DOA even if it was the greatest thing the console market had seen to date.  Everyone was just so burned out by that point, the masses wanted the "next big thing" which at the time was home computers.

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There's no reason the sgm couldn't have a keyboard peripheral and be software compatible with the Adam.

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3 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

The wafer thing was totally unreliable, and Coleco wanted to jump onto the family computer bandwagon, so that's why they went with the ADAM.

 

 

Coleco were going to make both the SuperGame Module and the ADAM 
A prototype of both exist using the Wafer Tape Drive
But when Coleco discovered how unreliable the Wafer Tape Drive was, they scrapped the SGM and focus only (well, almost since they were also working on the Laserdic Player for the CV) on the ADAM

IMO, Coleco should have just go with the SGM (minus the Wafer tape drive) and not do the ADAM
Arnold Greenberg himself said it was not a good idea to go into computer buisness 
Although, this was clearly not their only mistake.... 

 

adam proto 2.png

Edited by retroillucid
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1 hour ago, mr_me said:

There's no reason the sgm couldn't have a keyboard peripheral and be software compatible with the Adam.

Yes, there's a reason: Money and staff 
But yeah, it would have been possible

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If they made the adam expansion black with the printer and keyboard optional you essentially have the sgm.

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4 minutes ago, mr_me said:

If they made the adam expansion black with the printer and keyboard optional you essentially have the sgm.

Indeed, minus the utility softwares
Speaking of wich, was one of the major headache at Coleco, they were time consuming to beta test

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3 hours ago, Atari_Bill said:

I can’t say how excited I was for the SGM. So disappointed when it was cancelled. 

I saw the "display" SGM back in the day at a show in NY, they had the Super Action Controllers on display as well along with Rocky Super Action Boxing.

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On 12/12/2019 at 1:52 PM, Prosystemsearch said:

How unreliable were they usually on a scale of 1-10, and why?

Oh, and the ADAM should have at least had its power button on the console itself and not the printer as well as at least slightly better internal build quality. The ADAM selling only about 100,000 units and half of those sold not working after a short time was no random happening by any means.

There were over 2 million ColecoVision’s sold (launched in August 1982) and over 500,000 ADAM computers made (some Expansion module #3 ADAM computers and others the standalone ADAM computer). The ADAM computer launched in October 1983 and there was a Smartwriter software bug that required the first generation computers to be recalled since the built in Smartwriter prom did not work at all. In early 1984 the ADAM computer Smartwriter bug had been fixed and during that year there was improvements in the software, printer, Digital Data drive, etc. Of course by January 1985 Coleco left both the computer and videogame business and stopped making both the ADAM computer and ColecoVision. The ADAM printer with power supply being built into the printer and Digital Data Drive were the negatives of the computer. However in 1984 people were using the ADAM computer disk drive which was much more faster and reliable then the Digital Data Drive. Remember back in 1983 the Digital Data Drive was state of the art since most people with home computers were still using slow manual tape drives. Digital Data Drives were almost as fast as some floppy drives and was automatic.

 

If the ADAM computer would have launched in 1984 with a Disk Drive, power supply with RS-232 port instead of printer, and had the software and hardware bugs worked out then maybe under ideal conditions it would still be around or around until the late 90's with a second and third generation. Back in 1983 the ADAM computer was state of the art with color videogames that were better then any other system including the ColecoVison. The ADAM computer was more then a Super Game Module, it was a complete home computer system. The ColecoVision was $200 and the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer was $600. Most people in 1983 did not want to pay $800 for a complete computer system. So the price did hurt the ADAM also. In 1986-1988 those people purchasing the standalone ADAM computer brand new in the box on clearance for around $200 instead of $800 where getting a real bargain. Not only were they getting a cheap price but they were getting the latest hardware and software generation which is real reliable. Some ADAM computers manufactured in 1983 are still running with no problems. Sometimes over the many decades I have left my ADAM computer running 24 x 7 and not turning it off (Only when it was in storage I could not leave it on).      

Edited by HDTV1080P

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On 12/12/2019 at 1:23 PM, Prosystemsearch said:

The original Super Game Module, however, didn't have half the issues that plagued the Adam, yet was ditched completely some time after it was announced, regardless of how ahead of its time it was.

 

Huh? The Super Game Module had ALL kinds of issues with the Entrepo Tape Drive that Coleco R&D was attempting to use. These were continuous loop magnetic tape in a cassette like case and the tape would stretch making it impossible to use. For these reason, Coleco had to go back to the drawing board and developed the Digital Data Drive for the ADAM which was really impressive with it's high speed operation and I/O functionality that works just like a disk drive. It was a HUGE improvement over Tape Decks used on other computers of the time and there are still a very large number of these Digital Data Drives working after 36 years.

 

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On 12/12/2019 at 1:23 PM, Prosystemsearch said:

... and played its own set of games that came in the form of metal and plastic wafers that could be seen as the precursor to the hucards used by the TG-16/PC Engine.

Not at all correct, see above post.

 

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On 12/12/2019 at 5:16 PM, retroillucid said:

Indeed, minus the utility softwares
Speaking of wich, was one of the major headache at Coleco, they were time consuming to beta test

Most of the ADAM software was outsourced (ie. Lazer Microsystems) and the programmers at Coleco that worked on the Operating System and firmware for the hardware only did that, they were not pulled from the In-House CV game programmers.

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7 minutes ago, NIAD said:

Most of the ADAM software was outsourced (ie. Lazer Microsystems) and the programmers at Coleco that worked on the Operating System and firmware for the hardware only did that, they were not pulled from the In-House CV game programmers.

I'm perfectly serious when I say this - but you should write a book about the ADAM.  I'd buy it in a snap and I'm sure it would be a fascinating read.

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It’s interesting that Coleco’s ideas were just a bit before their time.  The compact disc was just coming to market.  Imagine if they had developed a CD-ROM expansion drive similar to Sega’s for the Genesis. I’m sure it wiuld have been too expensive to manufacture at the time. 

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14 minutes ago, Tron Unit said:

It’s interesting that Coleco’s ideas were just a bit before their time.  The compact disc was just coming to market.  Imagine if they had developed a CD-ROM expansion drive similar to Sega’s for the Genesis. I’m sure it wiuld have been too expensive to manufacture at the time. 

You could have played Night Trap a few years earlier.  Night Trap was developed on a colecovision afterall.

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54 minutes ago, Tron Unit said:

It’s interesting that Coleco’s ideas were just a bit before their time.  The compact disc was just coming to market.  Imagine if they had developed a CD-ROM expansion drive similar to Sega’s for the Genesis. I’m sure it wiuld have been too expensive to manufacture at the time. 

Coleco was looking at the Laserdisc optical disc and RCA CED needle and groove system to provide videogames and movies. There original plan was to bring Dragon’s Lair home on either Laserdisc or RCA CED system, and consumers would also be able to play movies also on the ADAM. If Coleco would have went with the 1978 Laserdisc format then that would have been the wise decision since the Laseridsc format in the United States lasted until the year 2000 when the introduction of the 1997 DVD (DVD-ROM) format replaced Laserdisc around the year 2000. However knowing Coleco if they had the resources they might have decided to go with the RCA CED system which would be a big mistake. The RCA CED system went out of production in the Spring of 1984 and movies stopped being released in 1986. The much better quality optical Laserdisc format won the format war in the 80’s when it was up against the CED system.

In March of 1983 the compact disc (CD) was released in North America, however the very first computer based CD-ROM drive was not released until June of 1985. Coleco left the computer and videogame business in January 1985 and therefore the CD-ROM drive was not even a option for the company at the time.

 

The best thing Coleco could have done is delay the ADAM computer until 1984 and release the computer with a disk drive and power supply with built in RS-232 port (Then we would never have Digital Data Packs and that very noisy printer that were the two major problems and complaints with the ADAM). And if they would have been around in 1985 they could have released a CD-ROM drive for the ADAM computer for the Christmas season. But I do not have a time machine and one is not able to change the past and make Coleco the next Microsoft or Apple company. There was a lot of competition in the 80's plus the videogame crash hurt a lot of companies.   

Edited by HDTV1080P

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Plus the ad-on would have been seen as prohibitively expensive. CD Players were being sold by Sears at Christmas for $600 in 1984. Just imagine what a proprietary CD player would have cost consumers in 1984. My family didn't buy a dedicated CD player atleast until 1991-1992.

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Optical media for a computer that had 64k of ram?  The colecovision was originally designed to support a video underlay, the 16th colour was made transparent for this purpose.  In 1985, the only practical way to bring video to home video games was VHS tape.  Without MPEG compression (1993) you couldn't get five minutes of video on a Cd-rom.  Laserdisc was too expensive and RCA CED was analog technology not unlike VHS.  The NEMO was a VHS based video game console, developed in 1985/86 that never made it to market. Quality of the software, which included Night Trap, was poor. It was to cost $299.  

 

 

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On 12/12/2019 at 3:17 PM, mr_me said:

There's no reason the sgm couldn't have a keyboard peripheral and be software compatible with the Adam.

 well besides what others have stated could you imagine a world where you bought a SGM but you wanted to play whatever but it requires a keyboard so you go back and buy a keyboard then next month OH we need a disk drive for the next thing and so on and so on leaving you with a jumbled mess. That sounds like a very efficient way of doing things for both the consumer and maker. (ask 1990's sega)

 

Quote

Laserdisc was too expensive and RCA CED was analog technology not unlike VHS.

Laserdisc uses analog video as well, its only later on they started encoding digital audio tracks, anyway somehow somewhere I got the idea that coleco was "working" on a CED based system using smaller... like 3 or 5 inch disc's 

Edited by Osgeld
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Why would someone design a video game that required a keyboard, unless it's a text adventure.  I don't know what the capacity of those exatron tapes might have been but I suppose eventually it would have been exceeded.  That still wouldn't prevent games from being distributed on them had it worked.

 

I wouldn't doubt coleco was working with CED.  Just saying the next group trying to do this chose VHS.  With VHS you can also write data to tape if needed.

 

Although people tried to create add-on peripherals again and again, it was proven from the beginning that video game add-on peripherals don't sell.

Edited by mr_me

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