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

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They don't sell if they are not supported.

Ask Nintendo and NEC.

The Famicom Disk System sold about 4 millions units (out of 19 millions Famicom sold in Japan) and have a library of about 200 games.

The CD-Rom² ended up being sold built into the PC-Engine and overall NEC figures shows that half of the PC-Engine sold from 1987 to 1996 are Cd-Rom compatible; Out of about 700 PC-Engine games, 370 are CD-ROM games.

 

The thing is that both supported their add-on from the beginning, with impressive games, new unseen features (both allow to save games - the FDS on the floppy itself, the CD-ROM² in the unit) bigger-than-before games, better sound (the FDS include an extra sound chip, and the CD-ROM² can play regular Red Book music tracks and/or have lenghty chiptunes stored on a CD).

The failure of many peripherals before and after are mostly due to the abysmal lack of support from the parent company itself.

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A complete ADAM system back in October 1983 was $800. $200 for the ColecoVision and $600 for the Expansion Module #3 ADAM computer. I even remember a few places selling the standalone ADAM for around $800 when it first came out in 1983.

 

The ADAM was better then the unreleased Supergame module. There were games released like Richard Scary that used almost the entire 256K of storage space on the Digital Data Pack. The keyboard was awesome on the ADAM and ahead of its time using a detachable cord and Smartkeys that are like function keys today. There are many dedicated ADAM games that require the keyboard like Family Feud, Jeopardy, and 2010 the Text Adventure game to name a few.   

Edited by HDTV1080P

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5 hours ago, mr_me said:

The colecovision was originally designed to support a video underlay

The TI992x VDC definitely supports master/slave output, but Colecovision doesn't connect the external video pin.  Or do you mean that there was a prototype that did that?

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5 hours ago, CatPix said:

They don't sell if they are not supported.

Ask Nintendo and NEC.

The Famicom Disk System sold about 4 millions units (out of 19 millions Famicom sold in Japan) and have a library of about 200 games.

The CD-Rom² ended up being sold built into the PC-Engine and overall NEC figures shows that half of the PC-Engine sold from 1987 to 1996 are Cd-Rom compatible; Out of about 700 PC-Engine games, 370 are CD-ROM games.

 

The thing is that both supported their add-on from the beginning, with impressive games, new unseen features (both allow to save games - the FDS on the floppy itself, the CD-ROM² in the unit) bigger-than-before games, better sound (the FDS include an extra sound chip, and the CD-ROM² can play regular Red Book music tracks and/or have lenghty chiptunes stored on a CD).

The failure of many peripherals before and after are mostly due to the abysmal lack of support from the parent company itself.

You're right, without software support an add-on has no chance.  I wonder if nintendo considered 20% sales on the install base a success.  Mattel had that much with the intellivoice and everyone says it was a failure.

2 hours ago, ChildOfCv said:

The TI992x VDC definitely supports master/slave output, but Colecovision doesn't connect the external video pin.  Or do you mean that there was a prototype that did that?

Can they not combine the video outside of that chip?

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it would be much more difficult to sync the two video sources, and of course more difficult in electronics means moar monies 

Edited by Osgeld

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thought I should elaborate, the master slave configuration of the TMS chips allows multiple video sources to be synced to each other, its not a passthrough its a clock sync, otherwise if you have 2 video sources running independently on their own clocks you can never ensure the two sources are in lock step with regards to timing which would entirely bork the analog video timing, which would result in garbage on old TV's or no input blue screens on more modern tv's 

 

to sync 2 systems each running on independent clocks turns into an exercise in frustration, though it could be done ... but in the early 1980's this is entering the realm of broadcast type equipment. Its 1000x easier to extract the video sync clock from another source and use that to time the video output of another (aka "genlock") 

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12 hours ago, mr_me said:

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.

 

It would have depended on how many feet of tape was used in the Exatron cassette. I think I recall the breakdown was 5' of tape would give you 4K of storage on up to 75' of tape for 64K of storage. Being a continuous single loop design, it would have been tedious waiting for the drive to forward thru upwards of 75' of tape to find a file header.

 

Stringy Floppy for SGM and ADAM.png

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10 hours ago, Osgeld said:

thought I should elaborate, the master slave configuration of the TMS chips allows multiple video sources to be synced to each other, its not a passthrough its a clock sync, otherwise if you have 2 video sources running independently on their own clocks you can never ensure the two sources are in lock step with regards to timing which would entirely bork the analog video timing, which would result in garbage on old TV's or no input blue screens on more modern tv's 

 

to sync 2 systems each running on independent clocks turns into an exercise in frustration, though it could be done ... but in the early 1980's this is entering the realm of broadcast type equipment. Its 1000x easier to extract the video sync clock from another source and use that to time the video output of another (aka "genlock") 

So if coleco had an expansion module that added video, it would have circuits to genlock that video.  That's exactly what Mattel did with their intellivision add-on.

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4 hours ago, mr_me said:

So if coleco had an expansion module that added video, it would have circuits to genlock that video.  That's exactly what Mattel did with their intellivision add-on.

The expansion port can feed video, but not in a way that allows the two to cooperate.

 

They do expose the RESET line from the VDC to the expansion port, but not its dot clock.  The RESET line is brought up to >9V to sync with a new frame, but you immediately lose sync again since you can't tap into the VDC's clock.  In addition, the method of cooperating in 992x chips is to have the Y and color difference lines go into a selector circuit that decides which one gets priority for each pixel.  CV didn't do that either.  The Y and color differences go through an analog switch to the modulator, where they get combined into a composite signal.  The external video flips that switch to cut off the internal video and turns on a different switch.  Its signal is already composite video.  Expansion modules also cut off the color modulation clock so that the internal video can't bleed odd colors into the external composite signal.  I think it also silences the audio chip.  So yeah, expansion modules have no way to synchronize WHEN to cut off and restore video, and even if they did, it would confuse the color clock.

 

Just to add more trivia, the 9918 has composite output, so it also has composite input for "passthrough".  Again, two 9918s would share the same clock and the RESET line so that they can be in perfect sync.  The output of the "slave" goes to the external input of the "master".  The "master" will decide to pass the "slave" through on any given pixel if the "master"'s pixel is determined to be transparent at that location, rather than a color.  So genlock is achieved by sharing the same RESET and clock.  But since CV chose the 992x line instead, this is irrelevant to the discussion :)

 

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

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?

 

 

 

When the bottom of the video game market fell out Coleco got caught with their pants down. A huge chunk of their revenue disappeared overnight, so much so that the company faced an existential threat. The home video game market was saturated and people were ditching dedicated consoles for home computers which were starting to become affordable and offered greater versatility. Coleco wisely decided to pivot to ADAM, but the development cycle was too short to meet the critical Christmas buying season and they unwisely decided to "damn the torpedoes" and stop final test during manufacturing and ship what they had. It was a Hail Mary that didn't pay off (and they were also under the gun to deliver these units to retailers in time contractually). If they were able to delay til it was actually finished they would have at least kept their reputation and goodwill intact. They were excoriated in the press for the defects and pissed off a lot of customers. Never mind that what we find out in the wild largely works no less than any other machines of this vintage, it must have been pretty maddening to get buy a new one, return it, then a third, send it back for repair, etc when you've spent several hundred $$$s of early 80's money on something that doesn't work right.

 

Die-hard Coleco Vision people do love to hate on it...and I'm convinced a lot of those folks have never actually used one. Nevertheless, it is a DAMN FINE MACHINE, is almost 100% backward compatible AND, IMO it's the best all around early home computer. Anyone that loves CV should have one.

 

(I'm not biased!)

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1 hour ago, Geoff Oltmans said:

Die-hard Coleco Vision people do love to hate on it...and I'm convinced a lot of those folks have never actually used one. Nevertheless, it is a DAMN FINE MACHINE, is almost 100% backward compatible AND, IMO it's the best all around early home computer. Anyone that loves CV should have one.

I had an ADAM when I was a kid, and I mostly used it for playing ColecoVision games and ADAM Super Games because, let's face it, it wasn't all that great for anything else unless you had connections with the "underground ADAM community", which I only heard about mere months before I got rid of my ADAM to make room for my first PC.

 

Looking back, I think Coleco did just about everything wrong where the ADAM was concerned. The Digital Data Packs were nice but too proprietary and stressful to use, the daisy-wheel printer was outdated right out of the box, the floppy drive was expensive, Coleco's software offerings (aside from games) was rather poor and uninteresting... You could tell Coleco got in over their heads from the start with the ADAM. They didn't have the developer framework in place to support it, and the ADAM "community" formed despite Coleco's lack of effort to promote the ADAM with proper technical documentation, compilers and other development tools (although to be fair, I was too young at the time to program in anything but SmartBASIC anyway, but I would have liked extra documentation on SmartBASIC to code more advanced programs).

 

In my humble opinion, they should have just gone with a simpler and cheaper computer expansion module: Something smaller, shaped like the original Super Game Module, with some ports for a keyboard, an optional stand-alone printer and a DDP drive (sold separately, so also optional but recommended as the minimum peripheral for getting the most out of the computer module) or floppy drive. Software like BASIC, Logo, etc. would have been on cartridge, DDP or floppy. RAM should have been limited to 64K with no possibility for memory expansion, because at the time, the need for more memory wasn't all that necessary for those kinds of early "family computers". A computer expansion like that would have had a better chance of surviving the video game crash of '84.

 

Just my 0.02$ on the subject.  :)

 

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10 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

Looking back, I think Coleco did just about everything wrong where the ADAM was concerned. The Digital Data Packs were nice but too proprietary and stressful to use, the daisy-wheel printer was outdated right out of the box, the floppy drive was expensive, Coleco's software offerings (aside from games) was rather poor and uninteresting... You could tell Coleco got in over their heads from the start with the ADAM. They didn't have the developer framework in place to support it, and the ADAM "community" formed despite Coleco's lack of effort to promote the ADAM with proper technical documentation, compilers and other development tools (although to be fair, I was too young at the time to program in anything but SmartBASIC anyway, but I would have liked extra documentation on SmartBASIC to code more advanced programs).

 

In my humble opinion, they should have just gone with a simpler and cheaper computer expansion module: Something smaller, shaped like the original Super Game Module, with some ports for a keyboard, an optional stand-alone printer and a DDP drive (sold separately, so also optional but recommended as the minimum peripheral for getting the most out of the computer module) or floppy drive. Software like BASIC, Logo, etc. would have been on cartridge, DDP or floppy. RAM should have been limited to 64K with no possibility for memory expansion, because at the time, the need for more memory wasn't all that necessary for those kinds of early "family computers". A computer expansion like that would have had a better chance of surviving the video game crash of '84.

 

I know from talking to ex-salesmen that more than a few ADAMs were sold because they were positioned as cheap word processors (that could also do that other weird stuff, like games and programming).  People paid more for IBM Selectrics and this gave them something with more power, so for Coleco the printer was non-negotiable. 

 

I have made my share of jokes about the printer over the years, but really my only real beef with it was you couldn't easily swap it out for a different printer--even if you did upgrade to a dot matrix printer, you still had to keep the old printer around.

 

I agree about the tapes, bad choice but the timing wasn't right for floppies--another year, the price of drives came down a lot.  Would our families have shelled out another $100-200 for a 5.25" drive instead of the DDP?  The timing/price problem also extends to the printer as well.  I also wonder if 64K would have worked better, but I still believe that having expansion possibilities beats having none.

 

Would it have been better to not put in all those 6801 co-processors and just use some LSI tech, and base everything around a more simple serial bus (instead of ADAMnet)?  Would it have been better to make it more like the MSX machines?

 

Ultimately, all these quirks made the ADAM the ADAM.  Would we still be talking much about a computer that was anything else?  I think some of us stuck with it all these years because we liked being the underdog, and that's not so bad.

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1 hour ago, LoTonah said:

I have made my share of jokes about the printer over the years, but really my only real beef with it was you couldn't easily swap it out for a different printer--even if you did upgrade to a dot matrix printer, you still had to keep the old printer around.

 

I agree about the tapes, bad choice but the timing wasn't right for floppies--another year, the price of drives came down a lot.  Would our families have shelled out another $100-200 for a 5.25" drive instead of the DDP?

The DDP drive would have been alright as a wait-until-floppies-are-well-established solution. That's why I would have wanted it as an external device, to swap it out with a floppy drive as soon as I could (and then Coleco could have just re-issued all their software on floppies, like they actually began doing BITD with the Super Games and other software). The only problem with my scenario is having one power cord for the DDP (or floppy) drive, one power cord for the printer, in addition to the ColecoVision's power cord. And any other device (like a modem) would have required its own power cord as well. So lots of wires. I tend to believe the ADAM turned out the way it did because having lots of power cords and assorted wires irked Coleco's designers, who preferred to have a more integrated system.

 

One possible partial solution to this could have been to have the DDP/floppy drive as a module that plugged into the cartridge port on top of the ColecoVision, and such a module would have had its own cartridge port for inserting cartridges, similar to the Sega 32X add-on. Then its power cord could have been discretely branched with the nearby power cord of the ColecoVision console, just like how the Roller Controller got its power. This solution would have actually added some versatility to the system: Insert the standard "CP/M" cartridge into the cartridge slot of the add-on and just run software from the DDP/floppy, or plug in cartridge-based software (including games) that could have used DDPs or floppies as a read/write memory extension. The only problem is that the ColecoVision's reset button would have been covered by the add-on, so the computer add-on (plugged into the front expansion port) would have needed a reset button of its own. Also, such a setup makes having twin drives impossible, but for a toy computer for kids, I don't think this would have been much of a problem. Coleco wanting to sell the ADAM to businesses was one other reason the ADAM turned out the way it did, I suppose.

 

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My rose tinted glasses are on and thinking back, even though I loved my Adam back in ‘84, I still think the same back then that I do today:  Forcing the printer on everyone increased the cost of the device, Expanded the quality control issues Beyond acceptable range and increased the size of the footprint for the expansion module #3 to beyond what most people care to deal with.  This, along with the ridiculous power feed design crippled the system from the start.

 

The data packs were fine, comparable to other computers of the era. The memory and graphics/audio capabilities were fine, comparable to most other computers of the era (exception: C64).  If they could have offloaded the printer, the price advantage may have been substantial over the competitions.

 

Well, we will never know but my point is: the design they went with was flawed and evident from the start.  I don’t think it’s just a question of not a long enough test period.  You can fix all the bugs you want, it doesn’t matter if the core design is flawed.

 

Despite all of this, I still loved my Adam though: my first computer :)

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I would gather that Arnold Greenberg maybe thought being called the CEO of a computer company rather than a videogame & toy company may have raised his social standing or perhaps he had grand dreams of ADAM PC's in school replacing the Commodore PETs or Apple's or whatever a school's computer club may have had (Me old. We had PETs in junior high). 

 

I never did have an ADAM but my neighbor across the street from my childhood home did. I noticed one day that the ADAM box was in the trash...with the ADAM inside (apparently it had died quite the death tho the neighbor never did say how). As this was maybe 1985 I decided to look if the controllers were in the box...and they were and they worked! I claimed them for my own for use with my beloved Commodore 64. I believe I even used it when I moved on to the Commodore Amiga 500. 

 

Now...a secret easter egg using a C64 and a CV controller that perhaps no one else but me ever knew!

 

If you were playing Summer Games II by Epyx and chose the javelin event you could hold down the right trigger and your little Olympic dude would TURBO run and you could get super long distance throws if you had the right angle. 

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3 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

The only problem with my scenario is having one power cord for the DDP (or floppy) drive, one power cord for the printer, in addition to the ColecoVision's power cord. And any other device (like a modem) would have required its own power cord as well. So lots of wires.

To be fair, my IBM PC had one power cord for the computer, one for the monitor, one for the printer, and one for the modem.  Until USB started offering high-amperage output, even some USB devices needed their own power.  For Atari people, each disk drive needed its own power too, for that matter.  I think that was just the expectation back then and would not have been seen as a strike against.  We'd just buy large power strips and deal with it.

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The ColecoVision between August 1982 to October 1985 remained the most powerful videogame system on the market. The ADAM computer system was the most powerful color home computer system with videogames that were better than the ColecoVision because of the built in Supergame module. So, the ADAM was King of color computers between October 1983 to July 1985. Since Coleco stopped production on both the ColecoVision and ADAM in January 1985, and left the home computer and videogame business, this met one would never see a 16 bit ColecoVision/ADAM replacement.

 

On July 23rd 1985 the Amiga computer by Commodore was released. The Amiga was more powerful then the ADAM computer, however I decided to continue to use my ADAM computer until the early 90’s as my only computer system since I liked the classic Supergames like Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior (Ended up using Windows around 1993 with a IBM compatible computer). On October 18th 1985 the Nintendo videogame system was released in the United States. This Nintendo videogame system was more powerful when compared to the ColecoVision and ADAM when it came to graphics quality. Therefore, the ColecoVision system and ADAM were King of the videogame world in terms of best quality until late 1985. If Coleco would have kept going they might have released a 16bit ColecoVision/ADAM type system. Maybe call it Eve the ADAM compatible computer system.    

Edited by HDTV1080P

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" The ColecoVision between August 1982 to October 1985 remained the most powerful videogame system on the market. "

What do you base this statement on?

 

Clock speed of the Z80?   I owned an Adam, TI, C64 etc.  All back in the early 80's

 

My favorite system to program was the TI.  My favorite system to game on was the C64.  My most wanted system was the Adam.  Wow, what a POS.  Used for a while as a colecovision when my colecovision broke.

Only the intellivision ESC was worse!  I had the Aquarius as well and that sucked too. 

I was spared the Timex Sinclair 1000   Though, I wouldn't mind picking one up to play with.

 

Used TRS-80's in school.  Not too impressed.  But did learn a lot using them.

PDP-11/23 in High school.  I found it very similar to the TI99. Maybe why I liked the TI?

 

 

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5 hours ago, ChildOfCv said:

To be fair, my IBM PC had one power cord for the computer, one for the monitor, one for the printer, and one for the modem.  Until USB started offering high-amperage output, even some USB devices needed their own power.  For Atari people, each disk drive needed its own power too, for that matter.  I think that was just the expectation back then and would not have been seen as a strike against.  We'd just buy large power strips and deal with it.

People didn't have ibm pc expectations in 1983. Computer phobia was very much a thing.  Apple simplified things and used a single power cord with their Macintosh in 1984.  I think coleco had this in mind and really wanted to hide the power supply/brick; and put it in the printer.  Home computers at the time were bought by hobbyists.  Atari, and even Mattel wanted to go mainstream with home productivity applications as opposed to business or institutional.  Neither was successful.  Coleco tried the word processor angle, like atari and mattel, basic programming was extra.  The slow daisy wheel printer was necessary, dot matrix quality just didn't cut it.  The number one home computer application however was still video games.

 

4 hours ago, HDTV1080P said:

The ColecoVision between August 1982 to October 1985 remained the most powerful videogame system on the market. The ADAM computer system was the most powerful color home computer system with videogames that were better than the ColecoVision because of the built in Supergame module. ...

The commodore 64 had a more powerful sound chip and graphics chip.  It had less flicker, more sprites, multicoloured sprites, hardware scrolling.  It's why it became the number one selling video game machine in 1984.  The coleco supergame/adam module allowed for larger games using high capacity tapes.  Was it really necessary.  Rom prices were coming down and 24kB cartridges were happening in 1983.  I think coleco could do the super games they wanted within 32kB cartridges and then find a way to do even larger cartridges.  Another thing to consider was piracy.  People didn't mind spending money on commodore 64 hardware because they knew they could pirate the games.

Edited by mr_me

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In the 20th Century the best home version of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior (5 screen), and Buck Rodgers was on the ADAM computer. I remember playing Buck Rodgers the Supergame on Digital Data Pack back in 1983 and was amazed of how awesome the quality was compared to any other system. Some of those first ADAM games used almost the entire 256K of space like Richard Scary's Best Electronic Workbook Ever. The ADAM was ahead of its time. The Amiga and NES in late 1985 were better if a programmer would have made the exact same games. The problems with comparing 20th Century videogame and computer systems is that one always needs to compare the same game titles to get a real world performance measurement. Many computer and videogame systems have their plusses and minuses when it comes to specs. I love the detachable ADAMNET keyboard with the ADAM. So many companies like Commodore had the memory console built into the keyboard, unlike the ADAM that placed the memory console in a separate box just like modern 21st century desktop computers. The ADAM had 4 expansion module slots (3 internal and 1 external) plus up to 16 devices could be connected to ADAMNet like a disk drive, and keyboard. The Coleco ADAM was a real computer with a lot of expansion modules and options. That is why the computer system had some dedicated third party support for around a 10 year period, which is good for a system that only sold around 500,000+ ADAM computers.

Edited by HDTV1080P

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A little app call copycart existed to copy coleco games too.

Carts with hardware ( sound chips, ram etc. ) would be the exception.

 

Collision detection and 4 sprites per row were the big issue for Coleco / TI.

 

The C64 sold many games on Cart.  Some games came with a security dongle as well.  The worst were games with the black on burgundy images you had to match when the game started.

Find the matching image to what was displayed on the screen and enter the code.  It was hard to see them.  Thus you could not copy them.

 

Leader Board Golf used a device you plugged into the cassette port.  I figured out you could leave the cassette deck connect, just press play when starting the game and the security check passed.

Saved having to swap crap behind the system.

 

The good old days...

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On 12/12/2019 at 6:10 PM, mr_me said:

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

I agree.  For Christmas 1983, Coleco should have released the EM#3 in black and should have called it the Super Game Module.  The printer and keyboard could have been sold later as optional accessories (maybe for Christmas 1984).  There was no reason to rush those out, and it would have taken the pressure off Coleco to design, test, and release so much hardware and software in such a short period of time -- and more importantly it would have fulfilled what Coleco had been teasing/promising it's existing customer base.  Why they didn't is simply mind-boggling and defies logical explanation.  It really is a strange case of 'less would have been more'.  But for whatever reason there was a pervasive 'video games are a fad' thinking among the all the CxO's back then, and everybody wanted out of the market and into the computer market...Atari, Mattel, Coleco, etc.  It's really too bad.  There must have been something in the water they were all drinking....or maybe it was Steve Job's computer marketing skills even back then....

 

But anyhow, if you still want the Super Game Module... buy an EM#3, ditch the keyboard and printer (notice that none of the super games require either), and paint it black*.  Someone did that here (though personally I'm not really a fan of the silver drives)....

 

 

So Coleco never really scrapped the Super Game Module.  They just disguised it so well as a computer that it's hard to spot.... :)

 

* I'm being a bit flip here, as I believe you'll also need to supply -12v for the drive(s) to run.  But there's existing solutions to this, as well as an exciting potential new one that's about the size of a credit card: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4nYqfZlnMY

 

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I think this is the first time ever I read someone state the Adam was a more powerful computer than the c64... because it had a detachable keyboard and some conversions had more screens?

 

we all have different opinions but the guts of the system determines the power of the system, nothing more 

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I once suggested that Coleco bring the MSX to the states, as the system was so similar to the Colecovision, but I was informed that the MSX came out a bit later than the ADAM

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Both versions of Commodore 64 donkey kong in the 1980s had all four screens.  So did the Atari 8-bit version.  They also had the correct number of girders.  And they're only 16KB.

 

The MSX came out in 1983 in Japan and has a different sound chip than the cv/adam.  They tried in the US but the msx couldn't compete against the commodore 64.

Edited by mr_me

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