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

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I know this is circular discussion, and I believe I have already said that, but I think the SGM would have failed anyways. Just think, you are asking CV owners to basically buy this expensive (for 1983 standards) expansion, just to play slightly improved arcade ports. You see, yes, DK Super Game had all 4 screens, and some intermissions, but it wasn't a huge leap IMHO, nor even "arcade perfect", since they mostly used the original port as the starting point. They needed new exclusive material to sell the SGM, and didn't have it. So I guess it would have sold a few thousand units and died with the rest of the crash. Look what Nintendo did in Japan, they created new exclusive stuff to launch the Disk System (Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus). 

 

Instead Coleco should have invested in improving their in-house teams. Get some programmers the same caliber as Atarisoft, created more original material, things like that. Also focused all their resources on the CV instead of scattering it thin between CV and ADAM.

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53 minutes ago, opcode said:

I know this is circular discussion, and I believe I have already said that, but I think the SGM would have failed anyways. Just think, you are asking CV owners to basically buy this expensive (for 1983 standards) expansion, just to play slightly improved arcade ports. You see, yes, DK Super Game had all 4 screens, and some intermissions, but it wasn't a huge leap IMHO, nor even "arcade perfect", since they mostly used the original port as the starting point. They needed new exclusive material to sell the SGM, and didn't have it. So I guess it would have sold a few thousand units and died with the rest of the crash. Look what Nintendo did in Japan, they created new exclusive stuff to launch the Disk System (Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus). 

 

Instead Coleco should have invested in improving their in-house teams. Get some programmers the same caliber as Atarisoft, created more original material, things like that. Also focused all their resources on the CV instead of scattering it thin between CV and ADAM.

And don't forget they should have created the MegaCart, to break that pesky 32K barrier.  ;)

 

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If anyone out there has any more questions about what's what then I recommend that you download and read the PDF Electronic Fun with computers and games issue for June 83.

 

They have an entire article feature the hands on review of the SGM or the mock up depending on who you ask.

 

In the article it states better graphics and colors as well more memory and loading times.  With the ability to save high scores.

That is the jist of what the Super Game Module was intended to be.

 

Now how you get better graphics while passing through the Colecovision is a mystery because you have to pass through the same circuitry unless you are a complete unit that only relies on the power supply and passes through the audio/video out like the Atari 2600 EXP#1.

 

You can't say that it would have used the external video overlay which from what I understand is disabled on the Colecovision and ADAM.

Even if it did then we are talking about a whole new video chip which what would have been what successor to the TMS9928 in order to be backward compatible.  If all of that was the case then you are increasing the price to past the $130 and might as well create the full computer which they did.

 

Now we get back to the backward compatibility and being an EXPANSION to the Colecovision so they shot themselves in the foot with no new hardware other than anything that was not related to Audio or Video.

 

So 2 years after the Colecovision was released you have all these new systems out and Coleco releases the same old "Coleovision PLUS" with nothing new and an increased price to $700 something dollars.

It came with a ton of problems along with a very annoying printer.  Not even 40 columns much less 80 because the same old graphics chip designed around 1979.

 

I love my ADAM and it's unique software but Coleco's newest system would have been around 1987 and more of an Apple 2 clone instead of what they established.

 

If ADAM from the beginning had been updated to more like a PC Junior then Coleco would have survived but they had to stick with this expansion  idea that had already been abandoned by Atari and Intellivision long before Coleco released their Exp #3 or the ADAM.

 

Intellivsion and Mattel has their own story but Atari evolved their systems right up until the Atari ST same as Commodore.

Coleco stuck with their same old business model so to say that the video game crash of 84 killed them is an excuse.

 

Nintendo flooded the market purposely to kill off competition ala Star Bucks so why pay a weeks allowance at the arcade for a 5 minute game when you can have anything you want at home like Zelda which is a one time cost.

 

Of which they IMPROVED their system with the SNES then the 64 ect....


Coleco did none of these things despite dominating the home video game market in 83 along with their cabbage patch line but then you have to face the suits who are not engineers you will always lose because they see $$ instead of will it work.

 

Edited by Mike Harris

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1 hour ago, ColecoKing said:

In end Coleco should never have done Adam, just computer expansion for Coleco with basic software and Basic for new college adults and children. Most console computer hybrid failed and most popular software on them was basic so just have basic learning kit for CV maybe $100 ad you plug it in if you want basic software, allow printer input to print out stuff have basic, then that's it.
 

 

I don't think the ADAM in and of itself was a mistake per se. It certainly had everything someone would want in a home computer, but the business end of things was certainly botched by rushing it to market. They had a nice installed user base with Coleco Vision that they could leverage off of, so I think that gave them a little bit of a leg up on several competitors.

 

To me this is akin to what makes a "home computer" different from a "business computer." Those monikers are a little fuzzy in a lot of respects when you get right into it. What makes a "home computer" different than a video game console? Mainly the amount of RAM and IO they have...

 

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Coleco did not die in Crash so SGM would have been a better long term option than Adam.

Opcode

DK Super Game had all 4 screens, and some intermissions, but it wasn't a huge leap IMHO



Famicom disk not a huge leap either. Games just had to look better to justify purchase and SGM would have done good. Adam was useless and almost all it's major competitors beat in in everything except price. It was slapped together with little QA and after fake hype customers were mad and they only gave Adam one chance. It was also a huge cost look how fast they lost money on it when the customers stopped coming who even though Adam was a good idea? They even rush out the printers with cheap parts that even if they work properly at first (they did not) it wouldn't last more than a month or two before you call the repair man to fix issues or get replacement under warranty.

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The SGM came about due to Coleco’s promise to bring forth numerous expansion devices and everyone can blame Nuvatec for adding the Expansion Bus and leading the CV down this dark road to it’s eventual demise. 🤪

 

A bank-switching cartridge was probably not to financially feasible at this time (late 82 thru mid 83) due to the still high cost of PROMs. I am not to sure there were a lot of people that would have been happy spending $60 or more for a game... look at all the complaints over the retail price of Zaxxon which was more about name recognition than it’s 24K size. This is why the Wafer Tape was chosen for the SGM as far as a means to reduce the mass production costs of using Cart PCBs and PROMs, but retail price probably would have remained consistent with cartridge releases to garner more profits.

 

The Wafer tapes could hold up to 128K of program code, so in effect, programmers could have created more visually striking graphics within games even though the same VDP was being used because they weren’t restricted to a max of 32K and could load in new screens/levels when needed.

 

There were numerous 3rd Party companies that announced titles for the ADAM, just check out my ADAM specific Collectors List. Coleco also acquired the rights to numerous computer titles that their In-House team was to port to the ADAM. Two things killed this 3rd Party support, the initial rollout issues with numerous ADAMs mainly on the East Coast and Coleco slow walking getting these companies the Technical Reference manuals.

 

i wouldn’t called ADAMCalc lacking or deficient especially when so many that I have talked to in the early years liked it more than the top spreadsheet program of the time, VisiCalc. People also preferred SmartFiler over other database programs of the time even though it could be tedious to use strictly from data pack... well, if one had a Disk Drive and knew the difference. CP/M and SmartLogo were highly regarded and still are. Now if you consider SimpleCalc, Address Book Filer and Recipe Filer... those were superfluous.   Other computer systems of the time has typing tutors and flashcard makers, so really don’t see how Coleco releasing very good ADAM versions of these type of programs was a waste. As far as ADAM software, there just wasn’t enough time for Coleco to pump out enough water, but they had a rather lengthy list that they announced and were working their way thru... just needed more time and as someone suggested more In-House programmers to carry the work load.

 

As far as not having a standard 40 column screen, that not a fault of the ADAM hardware, that was a decision made by the higher ups? or marketing? based on the thought that most ADAMs would be connected to TV sets thru RF and not computer monitors. I used a 13” TV back then and the 40 column patch for SmartBasic displayed just fine as well as SpeedyWrite, which was an incredible word processor that used a 40 column display. CP/M also got the 40 column treatment. So going with a 32 column display was a huge blunder by someone at Coleco.

 

i can go on and on, but what‘s the point, it’s all been stated before. Simply put, the ADAM was the best videogame turned computer produced. It was a damn fine computer for it’s time when the computer industry was in its infancy and it was like the Wild, Wild West. After the initial problems experienced for a couple months after releases, it was written off by the industry and then a short while later, written off by Coleco management. Surely not enough time to develop and release enough of the life blood of any computer or videogame system... software.

 

One last thought, Coleco management was always chasing the next big fad, diving in head first and not getting out in time to save face. At times this gunslinger approach served them well and at others, it pushed them to the edge of bankruptcy. The ADAM didn’t end Coleco, further bad decisions and acquisitions into the late 80s finally did them in.

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Adam ended electronics not company as a whole. Cabbage trash was still popular read dictionary under fad there is is rofl lol.

What they think it was going to be hotwheels or Lego? How long they think that was going to last? idiots.

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1 hour ago, ColecoKing said:

Adam ended electronics not company as a whole. Cabbage trash was still popular read dictionary under fad there is is rofl lol.

What they think it was going to be hotwheels or Lego? How long they think that was going to last? idiots.

If you paid close attention to their history, this was pretty much Coleco’s M.O. The Telstar systems were a huge success for Coleco, but nearly put them into bankruptcy when cartridge based systems started to hit the market. They thought the CPK craze would last ad-infinitum, but that line proved to be no Barbie! They bailed and folded up the electronics division when they still had a very good videogame system and a pretty large installed base that they could have continued to grow, but management was scared off because of the ADAM... understandable, but sad that they went this route. 

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They actually kept the electronics for awhile but CV couldn't bring in anything to make up for Adam catastrophe.

Also to be fair Cabbage patch lasted much longer than people expected but once the money started slowing they have to be crazy to think they can rely whole company on it. They barely had variations, at least Barbie tried different things, same with Lego.
I don't think Adam understandable, they have horrible terrible product Adam backfire, yet CV still selling strong so it clear they could have done something with that base but nope, they didn't.

But they had cheaper slimmer reliable Adam in production as well, they didn't release it and kept selling money losing regular Adam, even after they stop they still support existing inventory at a loss!

It wasn't that they didn't have outs, Management was just out of reality. Even some people at company said Cabbage was slowing down for months time to diverse, of course they didn't lol. Even some management knew it, it was top management that ran the company into the ground, likely to get their golden parachutes(TM).

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1 hour ago, ColecoKing said:

They actually kept the electronics for awhile but CV couldn't bring in anything to make up for Adam catastrophe.

Coleco 1984 Annual Report: "After writedowns, the total of ColecoVision inventory and accounts receivable was $40.5 million at December 31, 1984. During 1985 it is expected that year-end accounts receivable will be converted to cash and the balance of ColecoVision inventory sold."

 

Coleco 1985 Annual Report: "Coleco's Consumer Electronics segment generated sales of $56.2 million for 1985 and incurred an operating loss of $38.5 million, nearly all attributable to ColecoVision. During the course of the year, all ADAM and ColecoVision inventory was sold, completing the discontinuation of those product lines."

 

So while the ColecoVision lasted to some degree through to 1985, the decision to axe and abandon the ADAM and ColecoVision came some time in 1984.

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16 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

Coleco 1984 Annual Report: "After writedowns, the total of ColecoVision inventory and accounts receivable was $40.5 million at December 31, 1984. During 1985 it is expected that year-end accounts receivable will be converted to cash and the balance of ColecoVision inventory sold."

 

Coleco 1985 Annual Report: "Coleco's Consumer Electronics segment generated sales of $56.2 million for 1985 and incurred an operating loss of $38.5 million, nearly all attributable to ColecoVision. During the course of the year, all ADAM and ColecoVision inventory was sold, completing the discontinuation of those product lines."

 

So while the ColecoVision lasted to some degree through to 1985, the decision to axe and abandon the ADAM and ColecoVision came some time in 1984.

We will never have a fair assessment of the ColecoVision potential past 1983 because Coleco diverged (to the ADAM) then drastically reduced investment. 

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4 minutes ago, opcode said:

We will never have a fair assessment of the ColecoVision potential past 1983 because Coleco diverged (to the ADAM) then drastically reduced investment. 

Totally agree.

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What really killed Coleco, is the numberous acquisitions of Companies in the mid 80s
Tomy, Selchow and Righter etc... 
Not counting all the money spent on multiple licenses!

And... the lack of interests by the Greenbergs brothers
They were tired to always fight back 

Ending the ColecoVision line was their very first mistake in the 80s
 

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In addition to everything already stated, in my opinion, the ADAM should never have been a CoelcoVision expansion module in the first place. One would think that the space commitment alone that was required to connect the various components would have set off alarm bells in West Hartford, CT. The expansion module was an unwieldy mess when set up on large table (it wouldn't fit on many a standard desk) and it was all but impossible to set up in front of and connect to the traditional living room TV. Had they kept the Super Game Module as a CV expansion module aimed at the console faithful, and at the same time launched the ADAM at the family PC market, then maybe they would have stood a chance. The fact that the ADAM could play the same ColecoVision games (including the Super Games) would be a nice bonus for ADAM buyers, but it would not be the main reason to invest in a home/family PC. At least, in my 20/20 hindsight, that's how I see it. 😄

 

ColecoVisionADAM.jpg

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It is clear Adam expansion was done to move CV userbase to Adam and vice verse in exchange. Since Coleco didn't have great longevity for products and were not known for computers it would help boost sales and have an image to use to sell the computer as well. I believe they say Expansion was about 1/5th of the 500,000 supposedly sold, mostly at the start so maybe it helped sales at launch who knows.

I do know that CV expansion was almost same price as an Adam a few times later which made it pointless. Should have been introductory price for those on budget.

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Just wanted to throw this out there and please note that I have not done the necessary Googling to find out...

 

What does the retroscene look like for other “console turned computer add-one” of this era?

 

Outside of the Ataris, Commodores and Apples of the era, what does the retroscene of computers that were released around the same time (IBM PCjr, etc.) look like?

 

The ADAM scene is pretty vibrant, albeit more so re hardware than Adam specific software. The huge plus factor for the Adam is an incredibly vibrant CV retroscene.

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On 9/28/2020 at 4:55 PM, Panama Joe said:

In addition to everything already stated, in my opinion, the ADAM should never have been a CoelcoVision expansion module in the first place. One would think that the space commitment alone that was required to connect the various components would have set off alarm bells in West Hartford, CT. The expansion module was an unwieldy mess when set up on large table (it wouldn't fit on many a standard desk) and it was all but impossible to set up in front of and connect to the traditional living room TV. Had they kept the Super Game Module as a CV expansion module aimed at the console faithful, and at the same time launched the ADAM at the family PC market, then maybe they would have stood a chance. The fact that the ADAM could play the same ColecoVision games (including the Super Games) would be a nice bonus for ADAM buyers, but it would not be the main reason to invest in a home/family PC. At least, in my 20/20 hindsight, that's how I see it. 😄

 

ColecoVisionADAM.jpg

I was an original owner of the ColecoVision in August/September of 1982, and the main reason I purchased the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer in October of 1983 was so that I could play Supergames like Buck Rodgers since the ADAM had the built in SGM module using videogames with up to 256K of storage in 1983 was amazing state of the art system. Yes it costs around $800 ($200 for the ColecoVision and $600 for the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer, but for dedicated videogame fans that also wanted to have their first computer system it was worth it).

 

Coleco also offered the ADAM in a standalone version with the only advantage of having a built in composite video output for those that had TV/monitors with a composite video input. Many early videogame systems lacked a expansion module interface for a computer, and many systems used the cartridge slot for expansion. Take a look at the IntelliVision II videogame console and the space it takes up for all its modules that plug into the cartridge slot. The ADAM was more power system with a real keyboard and with not only a cartridge slot but 4 separate expansion slots (1 external and 3 internal). For a 1983 computer system the ADAM was amazing system that also offered the most powerful videogames when compared to all other systems.    

 

PIC4.JPG

Edited by HDTV1080P

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On 10/8/2020 at 4:04 AM, HDTV1080P said:

I was an original owner of the ColecoVision in August/September of 1982, and the main reason I purchased the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer in October of 1983 was so that I could play Supergames like Buck Rodgers since the ADAM had the built in SGM module using videogames with up to 256K of storage in 1983 was amazing state of the art system. Yes it costs around $800 ($200 for the ColecoVision and $600 for the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer, but for dedicated videogame fans that also wanted to have their first computer system it was worth it).

 

Coleco also offered the ADAM in a standalone version with the only advantage of having a built in composite video output for those that had TV/monitors with a composite video input. Many early videogame systems lacked a expansion module interface for a computer, and many systems used the cartridge slot for expansion. Take a look at the IntelliVision II videogame console and the space it takes up for all its modules that plug into the cartridge slot. The ADAM was more power system with a real keyboard and with not only a cartridge slot but 4 separate expansion slots (1 external and 3 internal). For a 1983 computer system the ADAM was amazing system that also offered the most powerful videogames when compared to all other systems.    

 

PIC4.JPG

Like you, I purchased a ColecoVision in August 1982. I still have it, along with all of the expansion modules (minus the ADAM) and over 100 original boxed games. I am not anti ADAM. The point I was trying to make is that IMO, Coleco blundered from a marketing standpoint when they scrapped the Super Game Module and replaced it with the ADAM expansion. They took what would have almost certainly been a less than $100 game peripheral and forced consumers on an expensive upgrade path to a full-blown PC in order to obtain the "Super Game" experience. The fact that decades later OpCode released a very close approximation of what the original Coleco super game module would have been, and that it can perfectly play all of the ADAM Super Games, tells me that Coleco didn't scrap the device for technical reasons.

 

Myself, I already had a computer (Commodore 64) and didn't need another one. However, I would have been all in on an upgraded ColecoVision console experience. That's why I think from a marketing standpoint Coleco really blundered when they foisted the ADAM expansion on ColecoVision owners.

 

System-Boxes.jpg

Edited by Panama Joe

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On 9/28/2020 at 4:55 PM, Panama Joe said:

In addition to everything already stated, in my opinion, the ADAM should never have been a ColecoVision expansion module in the first place......

In hindsight since we know how history played out, I think Coleco should have never announced the SGM and just focused on their promise of a Computer Add-On for the CV (it was advertised on the CV box, in commercials and other literature) but in a much smaller form factor like the concept art picture below. This could have been there "Baby Steps" entry into the computer market at a much cheaper expense to them and the consumer. If successful, which it probably would have been due to the large number of CVs that were in homes already, they would then have better options and footing to consider a stand alone computer option down the road, but not to soon as they would need to support and grow the CV Computer for at least a couple years.

 

The Computer Add-On would have been in all actuality an SGM (enhanced tape drive, additional memory, external Expansion Interface, etc.) with the addition of a Keyboard. They would have been best served to include a Parallel and Serial Interface to allow connection of already available Parallel and Serial devices and most importantly, not include the enhanced tape drive built into the unit, but make it external with it's own port connector that could have used the ADAMnet standard that was created so as to be able to daisy chain drives. No need to include a printer since the end user could buy a Parallel or Serial Printer as needed. One's desk still could get pretty crowded, but that would be up to the end-user. Of course, price would probably have been at least double what the SGM price was suggested as, but well worth it.

 

Heck, if an SGM was actually released, it could have very possibly BOMBED as bad as the ADAM considering the Tape Drive was to be internal and we all know how long it took Coleco to get from using the Entrepo Stringy Tape Drive to a reliable Digital Data Drive!

 

ADAM Computer - Original Concept Artwork.jpg

Edited by NIAD

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21 minutes ago, NIAD said:

In hindsight since we know how history played out, I think Coleco should have never announced the SGM and just focused on their promise of a Computer Add-On for the CV (it was advertised on the CV box, in commercials and other literature) but in a much smaller form factor like the concept art picture below. This could have been there "Baby Steps" entry into the computer market at a much cheaper expense to them and the consumer. If successful, which it probably would have been due to the large number of CVs that were in homes already, they would then have better options and footing to consider a stand alone computer option down the road, but not to soon as they would need to support and grow the CV Computer for at least a couple years.

 

The Computer Add-On would have been in all actuality an SGM (enhanced tape drive, additional memory, external Expansion Interface, etc.) with the addition of a Keyboard. They would have been best served to include a Parallel and Serial Interface to allow connection of already available Parallel and Serial devices and most importantly, not include the enhanced tape drive built into the unit, but make it external with it's own port connector that could have used the ADAMnet standard that was created so as to be able to daisy chain drives. No need to include a printer since the end user could buy a Parallel or Serial Printer as needed. One's desk still could get pretty crowded, but that would be up to the end-user. Of course, price would probably have been at least double what the SGM price was suggested as, but well worth it.

 

Heck, if an SGM was actually released, it could have very possibly BOMBED as bad as the ADAM considering the Tape Drive was to be internal and we all know how long it took Coleco to get from using the Entrepo Stringy Tape Drive to a reliable Digital Data Drive!

 

ADAM Computer - Original Concept Artwork.jpg

It has better look than we have now.

 

Does this prototype support standard cassette?

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9 hours ago, Serguei2 said:

It has better look than we have now.

 

Does this prototype support standard cassette?

From the blue cart sticking out of the add-on, I'd venture to say that they intended to use their proprietary wafer drive.

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This is a fascinating thread. Thanks to all for the expert input!

 

Yes, Coleco made mention of a computer add-on on the CV box, but their initial 1982 marketing clearly focused on the Super Game Module.

 

ColecoVisionAd3.thumb.jpg.e95c3a897b34c7025c9ff9270eceb95e.jpg

 

It wasn't until the end of the year that they shifted their advertising to the ADAM expansion.

 

2046471293_ColecoVisionExperience-1b.thumb.jpg.60eff73ccf6dd92b79d3e064be9c0960.jpg

ColecoVisionAd2.thumb.jpg.11a472fbc98db6efc8d72479ef5c53e2.jpg

 

Either way, there is no denying that Coleco (a company that enjoyed tremendous success over the years,) at some point, clearly lost their way and missed the mark with their ColecoVision strategy and marketing.

 

VideogamingIllustrated12.thumb.jpeg.64242fc22ba8ca7e28817e2b4e003c4a.jpeg

 

 

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