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

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9 hours ago, cessnaace said:

Thanks. I'll start saving my money for it now. :)

Opcode Games is planning another run of the SGM iirc and possibly an SGM2... but progress has been slowed due to what has been going on in the world.

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Posted (edited)
On 12/23/2019 at 10:04 AM, mr_me said:

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.

Not exactly ColecoVision related, but.. One of my Apple II hard disks has a video-out connector labeled ((backup)). Output to and input from a video recorder. Was from a time when the industry was still figuring itself out. What worked and what didn't.

 

And in looking at that tiny wafer for the "original" SGM. I can't imagine how something that small and fragile internally made from plastic could have any sort of longevity. A couple of years at best if occasionally used.

 

I would also guess that tape that's 1/16th of an inch wide is hard to line up flat with the head. Now add a twisting element/motion for continuous looping. Ouch..

 

Originally when I first read about the SGM in EGM I thought it might be a small disk. That would've been more durable.

 

Quote

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.

True enough. I never liked add-on things. Big add-on things.

 

And while I never had an Adam back in the day I always heard horror stories about it. I suppose the block like nature (printer, computer, ColecoVision, keyboard, monitor) would have been unappealing to me. Especially since things had to be laid out a certain way. Granted the Apple II could sprawl out too, there was lots of room inside it for things.

 

IDK, the Adam seemed to appear at a desperate time in the industry. And there seemed to be no software available for it either. I was already quite "fatigued" with all the other 8-bit rigs. I was not about learn yet another one. For what?

 

Today the Adam is a curiosity piece. I enjoy reading about it more than I would getting one and restoring it.

 

Edited by Keatah

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On 12/22/2019 at 3:39 PM, 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. 

Oh, they did
I actually have a picture of the CED prototype 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 12/13/2019 at 4:18 PM, HDTV1080P said:

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).      

The C64 was superior to the Adam computer and so was the Apple II.  The C64 beat the pants off of both the Adam and the MSX.

The 256 pixel screen width is even worse than the Vic II's 320. The Vic II chip is superior to the TMS9928A Of course, the SID blows away the Adam's sound chip.  It just was not "state of the art" Though the C64 did not include a tape drive or a printer, by fall of 83, I think the C64 was already down to $200.

 

Back then computers had very limited use case for the home.  Most of the stuff you could do on a computer, you could do better other ways.  One thing touted a lot was recipes.  Give me a break.  A recipe book was better in every conceivable way.  Typing out homework and limited on-line stuff were really the only things they were useful for in a home and $600 (not to mention subscription service and long distance fees and tying up the family phone)  is a pretty hefty price tag even today if that were all it could reasonably do.

 

I really think Coleco would have been better off releasing the super game module with a cheaper (to make and package) cartridge format.  They probably could have kept going.  It was a very crowded market, it was very expensive and they were a toy company.  Colevovision fit "toy company" well,  Adam did not.   It was almost as bad as if Fisher Price released a $600 computer. Releasing the wafer drive would have been a big a disaster as Adam was. Both the games and the expansion unit would have ended up being returned.  Another option was a cassette drive built into the expansion pack. I have a cuttle cart and it can load a 32k ROM in about 20 seconds (makewav generates a 21 second wav file for 32k roms at default load speed).  From what I know about it, it is using the same protocol as the super-charger and is not achieving this speed from 2000 technology.  Having owned a super-charger back in the day, I remember that they loaded pretty quickly. They could have released it with and without a cassette deck, though having its own cassette deck would be preferable and eliminates all kinds of loading problems.

 

Of course, the problem with even the expansion module is that it would need RAM. Had they included 64k RAM for the software, it would have limited all future releases to under 64k, which is why a cartridge format would have been better and also would make it cheaper. They could have even done something similar to what the existing super expansion module is, adding system RAM and a sound chip.

 

Does anyone know what was actually going to be inside of the prototype super game module?  Was it just to make distributing games cheaper via the wafers?  Did it add RAM to the system? Sound capabilities? 

 

Edited by christo930
accidentally posted text as a link. Changed it to plain text

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Posted (edited)

The purpose of the sgm in 1983 was to distribute larger games since magnetic tape was cheaper than rom chips.  Since you can't execute code directly from magnetic media it would have to have sufficient ram for loading that code.  I would think at least 16kB ram maybe 32kB.  You can read about it here.

https://archive.org/details/Electronic_Fun_with_Computer_Games_Vol_01_No_08_1983-06_Fun_Games_Publishing_US

Edited by mr_me

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Posted (edited)
On 6/19/2020 at 11:55 PM, christo930 said:

The C64 was superior to the Adam computer and so was the Apple II.  The C64 beat the pants off of both the Adam and the MSX.

The 256 pixel screen width is even worse than the Vic II's 320. The Vic II chip is superior to the TMS9928A Of course, the SID blows away the Adam's sound chip.  It just was not "state of the art" Though the C64 did not include a tape drive or a printer, by fall of 83, I think the C64 was already down to $200.

 

Back then computers had very limited use case for the home.  Most of the stuff you could do on a computer, you could do better other ways.  One thing touted a lot was recipes.  Give me a break.  A recipe book was better in every conceivable way.  Typing out homework and limited on-line stuff were really the only things they were useful for in a home and $600 (not to mention subscription service and long distance fees and tying up the family phone)  is a pretty hefty price tag even today if that were all it could reasonably do.

 

I really think Coleco would have been better off releasing the super game module with a cheaper (to make and package) cartridge format.  They probably could have kept going.  It was a very crowded market, it was very expensive and they were a toy company.  Colevovision fit "toy company" well,  Adam did not.   It was almost as bad as if Fisher Price released a $600 computer. Releasing the wafer drive would have been a big a disaster as Adam was. Both the games and the expansion unit would have ended up being returned.  Another option was a cassette drive built into the expansion pack. I have a cuttle cart and it can load a 32k ROM in about 20 seconds (makewav generates a 21 second wav file for 32k roms at default load speed).  From what I know about it, it is using the same protocol as the super-charger and is not achieving this speed from 2000 technology.  Having owned a super-charger back in the day, I remember that they loaded pretty quickly. They could have released it with and without a cassette deck, though having its own cassette deck would be preferable and eliminates all kinds of loading problems.

 

Of course, the problem with even the expansion module is that it would need RAM. Had they included 64k RAM for the software, it would have limited all future releases to under 64k, which is why a cartridge format would have been better and also would make it cheaper. They could have even done something similar to what the existing super expansion module is, adding system RAM and a sound chip.

 

Does anyone know what was actually going to be inside of the prototype super game module?  Was it just to make distributing games cheaper via the wafers?  Did it add RAM to the system? Sound capabilities? 

 

The ColecoVision back in August of 1982 was state of the art and so was the ADAM computer back in October of 1983. Under real world conditions when comparing the exact same game titles released by Parker Brothers for both the ColecoVision and Commodore 64. The ColecoVision version was better. Also the 1983 ADAM computer had Supergames that could hold up to 256K of storage space. Buck Rodgers the Supergame back in 1983 was an amazing game. One of the reasons why the ColecoVision/ADAM is so popular today is because historians are realizing the system had the best graphics and sound quality between the years 1982-1985.

 

The Commodore 128 that came out in 1985 was a little more powerful with a Zlog Z80A CPU that was 4Mhz versus only 3.58Mhz for the Coleco ADAM.  In July 1985 the Commodore Amiga was clearly a more powerful computer when compared to the 1983 ADAM computer that went out of production in January of 1985. The Commodore Amiga had 7.16Mhz Motorola 68000 processor. The Commodore Amiga 1000 had a separate keyboard from the memory console just like the Coleco ADAM computer. I heard of some people that owned a Coleco ADAM in 1983 upgrading to the Commodore Amiga when it came out. However I decided not to upgrade since I liked the ADAM computer for its videogame quality for games like Buck Rodgers the Supregame, Donkey Kong the Supergame, and Donkey Kong Junior the Supergame. In fact the ADAM computer was my only computer for 10 years. Not until around the year 1993 did I get an IBM compatible Laptop computer that I sold for a better quality desktop computer that I built in the late 90’s.

 

There are plusses and minuses to many classic computers in the 1980’s. For example the ADAM computer only shipped with composite video output. The Commodore 64 computers in the Spring of 1983 started shipping with 8-pin video connector that supports Y/C which later became known as S-Video around the year 1989. S-Video is a little better than composite video, however S-Video did not start appearing on consumer TV’s in the United States until around the year 1989. So people were limited to the Commodore 1702 monitor until S-Video became popular between the years around 1989-2008. S-Video is no longer offered on any consumer products for over a decade and was replaced by the better quality component video jacks. Now component video is slowly being replaced by HDMI.     

Edited by HDTV1080P

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Hdtv1080p:  I get where you are coming from but wow do I disagree. 
 

but that’s what makes forums fun, we have an opportunity to discuss and debate our passions and are able to have our own opinions.
 

I loved my colecovision (and my Adam) but the Adam wasn’t closer to the Apple 2 than the c64 imho. I can see some debate on the graphics side (I still give that to the c64 Because of the smoother scrolling) but there are pros and cons... but once you factor in the Sid chip, it’s game over man, GAME OVER!

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19 hours ago, Loafer said:

.
 

I loved my colecovision (and my Adam) but the Adam wasn’t closer to the Apple 2 than the c64 imho. I can see some debate on the graphics side (I still give that to the c64 Because of the smoother scrolling) but there are pros and cons... but once you factor in the Sid chip, it’s game over man, GAME OVER!

While I agree with you on the SID chip, the C64 graphics looks boring to me compared to ColecoVision/ADAM 
Yeah, scrolling is choppy on CV but I can deal with it 

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2 minutes ago, retroillucid said:

While I agree with you on the SID chip, the C64 graphics looks boring to me compared to ColecoVision/ADAM 
Yeah, scrolling is choppy on CV but I can deal with it 

For sure, pro's and con's on the graphic side. 

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1 minute ago, Loafer said:

For sure, pro's and con's on the graphic side. 

Indeed 

I never really like playing games on computer, even if I did it alot on my IBM 486 back then 
I just prefer consoles when it comes to gaming 

I sold my Amiga because I couldn't stand the controls 
I still have a ADAM computer but I never ever use it, it's more for the Coleco collection only

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, retroillucid said:

Indeed 

I never really like playing games on computer, even if I did it alot on my IBM 486 back then 
I just prefer consoles when it comes to gaming 

I sold my Amiga because I couldn't stand the controls 
I still have a ADAM computer but I never ever use it, it's more for the Coleco collection only

Only between the years 1983 to around 1993 did I use my ADAM for word processing and other computer applications. As soon as I got Windows 3.1 with Microsoft Word and 80 column display with spelling errors underlined in red, I stayed with Microsoft to this day under Windows 10 64 bit and Office 2019 64 bit. However still use the ADAM for Supergames and CoelcoVison cartridges.  

Edited by HDTV1080P

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8 minutes ago, HDTV1080P said:

 However still use the ADAM for Supergames and CoelcoVison cartridges.  

I hear you, the ADAM SuperGames are all very nice and fun!
But now that I can play those on a ColecoVision, that's the way I prefer 

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1 hour ago, Loafer said:

For sure, pro's and con's on the graphic side. 

My two biggest loves are the ColecoVision and the C64.  So I guess I get the best of both worlds 😁

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4 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

My two biggest loves are the ColecoVision and the C64.  So I guess I get the best of both worlds 😁

It's funny I had the Apple II first then the C64 (the C64 fit nicely right above the Apple 2 keyboard lol).  I preferred initially the Apple 2 because Karateka and Rescue on Fractalus was better IMHO on the Apple 2 (frame rate was better). But that's about it, 95% of games released on both of those systems were better on the C64 but the Apple 2 was a first love thing so back in the day, I appreciated it more and since Karateka and Rescue were my two favorite games on either system, that probably explains that.  But it doesn't mean I can't give the crown to the C64!

 

When we compare the C64 to the Adam (or colecovision) on a technical level, I compare the top tier games and once I look at Turrican 1 & 2, IK+, Pitstop 2, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKraken, Winter Games, the Last ninja 2, etc the list goes on an on of titles that I don't know if technically they could have even been made on the Colecovision and/or Adam.  I heard LSL (a non C64 title but one that surely could have been made for it) is supposed to come out some day on the colecovision (or adam?) so that could prove me wrong here at least for adventure games (PROVE ME WRONG DAMMIT! lol).  When one takes a look at probably the best technical C64 title ever released: Mayhem in Monsterland (granted released late in the cycle), it's in a different league.  Well I take it back, every game can be ported but would it retain the same level of technical brilliance compared to the C64 version?  Hmmmm I don't know.

 

It is very true though that a lot of C64 titles had that chunky look and feel flat a bit when playing nowadays. For sure it's fair for someone to prefer the look of adam games for that reason, like its fair for someone to prefer the C64 because of scrolling or whatever.  But is it a debate if we talk purely technical level which computer is better?

 

So just so it's clear, I'm not ragging on the Colecvision or the Adam.  I love my colecovision WAY the hell more than I ever did my beloved apple 2 and way more than the C64.  The only system that's ever giving me consistently more joy than the CV is the Commodore Amiga but as a console, it's numero Uno!

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2 hours ago, Loafer said:

For sure, pro's and con's on the graphic side. 

C64 supports 320x200 graphics. It's more higher than Colecovision.

 

But some c64 games look like 160x200 instead.

 

It gives Colecovision an edge.

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3 hours ago, Loafer said:

I heard LSL (a non C64 title but one that surely could have been made for it) is supposed to come out some day on the colecovision (or adam?) so that could prove me wrong here at least for adventure games (PROVE ME WRONG DAMMIT! lol). 

Well.....   ....we'll soon prove you're wrong ;) :P

 

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Posted (edited)

A few years ago I did pickup a Commodore 128 and a Amiga computer to compare it to the ADAM computer. Unless one comes out with the exact same game titles for each system its hard to make a comparison. The Commodore Amiga is a more powerful computer system.

Edited by HDTV1080P

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Serguei2 said:

C64 supports 320x200 graphics. It's more higher than Colecovision.

 

But some c64 games look like 160x200 instead.

 

It gives Colecovision an edge.

The c64 graphics had hi-res 320x200 and low-res 160x200 tile/bitmap modes.  Both used 40x25 tiles for background graphics, each of which is capable of four colours per tile.  The colecovision resolution falls in between at 256x192 but it's 32x24 background tiles are monochrome only.  The c64 hi-res modes used a lot of computer resources, ram and cpu,  making it more difficult to do thing like background scrolling in hi-res mode.  So most c64 games used lo-res background graphics.

 

Similarly, the c64 had hi-res and lo-res sprites.  Hi-res sprites were monochrome but lo-res sprites could have four colours per sprite.  In both cases you could have eight flicker free sprites per scanline compared to colecovision's four monochrome sprites per scanline.  Most c64 games used lo-res multicoloured sprites.

Edited by mr_me

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11 hours ago, HDTV1080P said:

The Commodore Amiga is a more powerful computer system.

No shit? what would make it more powerful, maybe the 16 bit everything? I once picked up a C64 and a playstation 3 to compare it to the Adam, the playstation 3 is a more powerful gaming system.

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On 6/10/2020 at 8:32 AM, NIAD said:

Opcode Games is planning another run of the SGM iirc and possibly an SGM2... but progress has been slowed due to what has been going on in the world.

 

We are getting back on track. Boxes are shipping, PCB orders are being placed, pre-order are now open. I am formally estimating shipping in November to be safe, but confident that we can actually start shipping in September.

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On 6/9/2020 at 10:08 AM, NIAD said:

Opcode Games entered into agreement with the current rights holder of the Coleco name so that he could produce a complete in box product with the name “Coleco” on it.  The use of the “Super Game Module” name for his product wasn’t necessary, but it is a very nice and nostalgic touch.

 

Between the Opcode SGM and bank-switching cartridge PCBs that are widely used now to break the 32K cart size barrier, you basically get what Coleco had proposed back in 1983. Albeit, a lot more reliable than using stringy tape cassettes.

 

 

True, but let's not forget about the saving capabilities of the original SGM, that was one of the selling points. We get that with our Super Game Cartridges, we can save whatever amount of stuff we want, so perfect for high score tables and settings. Games like Maze of Galious can get rid of long passwords, etc.

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Isn't that interesting that Nintendo followed Coleco steps in almost every single concept? They used the ColecoVision TMS9918 was their inspiration for the Famicom video chip. They released the Famicom with Donkey Kong. They released a keyboard/BASIC module, they released their Disk System that uses the exact same concept with the exact same goals as the SGM. I may be missing someone, but I am pretty sure they were a fan of Coleco.

 

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2 hours ago, opcode said:

Isn't that interesting that Nintendo followed Coleco steps in almost every single concept? They used the ColecoVision TMS9918 was their inspiration for the Famicom video chip. They released the Famicom with Donkey Kong. They released a keyboard/BASIC module, they released their Disk System that uses the exact same concept with the exact same goals as the SGM. I may be missing someone, but I am pretty sure they were a fan of Coleco.

 

Well said and exactly what I always thought.

 

If Coleco had survived the videogame crash (their electronics division) and not gone down the road of the ADAM Computer, it would have been interesting to see these two companies go up against one another for videogame supremacy in the mid-80s. Nintendo probably would have lulled Coleco into a false sense of security about not releasing the Famicom in the North American market by using their past working relationship to garner trust and further information about Coleco’s plans for expansion of the CV or details of a possible CV2.
 

I am not forgetting about Atari in the least in the proposed scenario... just don’t care to include them in this “what if” scenario.

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On 6/21/2020 at 10:50 AM, HDTV1080P said:

The ColecoVision back in August of 1982 was state of the art and so was the ADAM computer back in October of 1983. Under real world conditions when comparing the exact same game titles released by Parker Brothers for both the ColecoVision and Commodore 64. The ColecoVision version was better. Also the 1983 ADAM computer had Supergames that could hold up to 256K of storage space. Buck Rodgers the Supergame back in 1983 was an amazing game. One of the reasons why the ColecoVision/ADAM is so popular today is because historians are realizing the system had the best graphics and sound quality between the years 1982-1985.

 

The Commodore 128 that came out in 1985 was a little more powerful with a Zlog Z80A CPU that was 4Mhz versus only 3.58Mhz for the Coleco ADAM.  In July 1985 the Commodore Amiga was clearly a more powerful computer when compared to the 1983 ADAM computer that went out of production in January of 1985. The Commodore Amiga had 7.16Mhz Motorola 68000 processor. The Commodore Amiga 1000 had a separate keyboard from the memory console just like the Coleco ADAM computer. I heard of some people that owned a Coleco ADAM in 1983 upgrading to the Commodore Amiga when it came out. However I decided not to upgrade since I liked the ADAM computer for its videogame quality for games like Buck Rodgers the Supregame, Donkey Kong the Supergame, and Donkey Kong Junior the Supergame. In fact the ADAM computer was my only computer for 10 years. Not until around the year 1993 did I get an IBM compatible Laptop computer that I sold for a better quality desktop computer that I built in the late 90’s.

 

There are plusses and minuses to many classic computers in the 1980’s. For example the ADAM computer only shipped with composite video output. The Commodore 64 computers in the Spring of 1983 started shipping with 8-pin video connector that supports Y/C which later became known as S-Video around the year 1989. S-Video is a little better than composite video, however S-Video did not start appearing on consumer TV’s in the United States until around the year 1989. So people were limited to the Commodore 1702 monitor until S-Video became popular between the years around 1989-2008. S-Video is no longer offered on any consumer products for over a decade and was replaced by the better quality component video jacks. Now component video is slowly being replaced by HDMI.     

The Donkey Kong versions both the super and the regular variants are terrible. Among other reasons, the screen is too short.  I do, however, know of a different computer (TI994/A) using either the same exact video chip or a close cousin of it that had the full height.  But the VIC II chip was superior. It had multi-colored sprites and hardware scrolling.  I would assume nobody would ever say the SID was anything but the best 8-bit sound chip ever made miles ahead of the competition. 

I'm not saying the ADAM had no merit.  As I understand it, Adamnet is pretty advanced.

As far as 256k game paks, that's an artificial size restriction.  Commodore disks were 180k and you could use multiple disks. There really isn't a theoretical limit.  I know of at least one cart for the 64 that is 512k. But it's not like either computer could access all of it all at once. It has to be banked in to deal with the address space limitations of their respective chips.

 

 

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