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

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Maybe with better programming they could have gotten all four donkey kong screens in 16kB, like Atari did.  It wasn't easy hiring video game programmers in the early 1980s, it's not like there was a pool of experienced videogame programmers out there.  Atari and Nintendo had people that have been at it a few years.  I know Atari and Mattel built up their development staff in to the hundreds by the end of 1982 and they were constantly getting poached by headhunters. Working in a videogame programming culture like that has advantages.  Do we know who programmed Colecovision Donkey Kong?  The Atari 2600 Donkey Kong programmer is known.

 

46 minutes ago, christo930 said:

I wonder if the 12 second delay was to get people used to loading times. 12 seconds is an awfully long time just to flash a logo.

The purpose of the colecovision start delay was to promote the colecovision brand.  The designer admittedly regretted the decision.

 

18 minutes ago, christo930 said:

According to the file names of ROMs I have, there were a number of 32k games in 1983.

Which ones?

 

28 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

I saw the "dummy" SGM "running" at the Coleco booth at a CES like show at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island back in the day (year unknown). 

So the SGM demos were faked at the trade show?  Does that mean the guy that wrote the magazine article I linked earlier wasn't actually playing through the SGM?

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4 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

I wish, back then it meant having a camera, with film, with flash bulbs, and carrying the damn thing!  We have it so easy nowadays! 

 

I think it was the first and only type of show I ever went to back then, so I probably had no idea what to expect let alone think to documents things. 

 

Shoulda, could, woulda.  

 

When you get finished with this years games, start working on a time machine for us.  I have a flux capacitor already you can borrow.

 

Just remember, no stepping on butterflies...

 

Well, I don't fault you. I wish that I had documented a lot of stuff I did or went to in the past. Just asked out of curiosity. In Brazil we had two ColecoVision clones announced. In the only one got released. But I went to a small expo where they had both in display. I even played both... Or the Atari booth in another expo in 1983/1984. I was there, Atari Club shirt and all...

 

As for the time machine, already working on that. I must go back and tell IBM to not agree in letting MS sell their PC-DOS to third parties.... That should change history for better. Will be careful with the butterflies...

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11 minutes ago, mr_me said:

Do we know who programmed Colecovision Donkey Kong? 

Yes, we know. And we will have a lot to share about that soon. :)

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1 hour ago, mr_me said:

The purpose of the colecovision start delay was to promote the colecovision brand.  The designer admittedly regretted the decision.

Which was partly corrected a year later (July 1983) when the CBS ColecoVision was released in Europe and the UK with a little over 3 second delay.  Now I wonder who made that decision?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, christo930 said:

According to the file names of ROMs I have, there were a number of 32k games in 1983.

Of all of the original commercial games release for the ColecoVision there were only 9 unique titles released that were 32K.  None of these were released prior to 1984.

  • 2010 - The Graphic Action Game (1984)
  • Dam Busters, The (1984)
  • Destructor (1984)
  • Dukes of Hazard, The (1984)
  • Fortune Builder (1984)
  • Spy Hunter (1984)
  • Super Action Football (US) (1984)
  • Super Action Football (EU) (1984)
  • Tapper (1984)

 

2 hours ago, christo930 said:

I wonder if the 12 second delay was to get people used to loading times. 12 seconds is an awfully long time just to flash a logo.

It's even worse, the delay is actually 12.65 seconds, so closer to 13 seconds than 12 😬

Edited by Ikrananka
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1 hour ago, mr_me said:

So the SGM demos were faked at the trade show?  Does that mean the guy that wrote the magazine article I linked earlier wasn't actually playing through the SGM?

Not necessarily, like I said, I can't remember the "when" when it comes to the show I went to, it would have been sometime between the ColecoVision's release and when they first advertised the SGM and the SAC. 

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4 hours ago, Ikrananka said:

Of all of the original commercial games release for the ColecoVision there were only 9 unique titles released that were 32K.  None of these were released prior to 1984.

  • 2010 - The Graphic Action Game (1984)
  • Dam Busters, The (1984)
  • Destructor (1984)
  • Dukes of Hazard, The (1984)
  • Fortune Builder (1984)
  • Spy Hunter (1984)
  • Super Action Football (US) (1984)
  • Super Action Football (EU) (1984)
  • Tapper (1984)

 

It's even worse, the delay is actually 12.65 seconds, so closer to 13 seconds than 12 😬

I double checked my ROM files against  cvaddict and none of them are actually 32k, although some are 20 and 24k like War Room and sector alpha.  But thanks for the heads up.

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6 hours ago, mr_me said:

Maybe with better programming they could have gotten all four donkey kong screens in 16kB, like Atari did.  It wasn't easy hiring video game programmers in the early 1980s, it's not like there was a pool of experienced videogame programmers out there.  Atari and Nintendo had people that have been at it a few years.  I know Atari and Mattel built up their development staff in to the hundreds by the end of 1982 and they were constantly getting poached by headhunters. Working in a videogame programming culture like that has advantages.  Do we know who programmed Colecovision Donkey Kong?  The Atari 2600 Donkey Kong programmer is known.

 

The purpose of the colecovision start delay was to promote the colecovision brand.  The designer admittedly regretted the decision.

 

Which ones?

 

So the SGM demos were faked at the trade show?  Does that mean the guy that wrote the magazine article I linked earlier wasn't actually playing through the SGM?

I don't think he actually was.  I think he was shilling.  Very long on hype and very short on details.  Perhaps he had a ROM version of what was to be put on a tape?  He mentioned better colors and that would not be coming from a cartridge. Could have (probably was) been BS-ing. He mentioned an average loading time, not a specific example.  A good review would have contained something along the lines of "From the moment I turned on the switch until the time the game selection screen appeared was 18 seconds," not a generic statement about the average loading time.  The article was disappointing in that respect.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, mr_me said:

So the SGM demos were faked at the trade show?  Does that mean the guy that wrote the magazine article I linked earlier wasn't actually playing through the SGM?

At one of these trade shows it was reported that one of the demo games that was on a wafer tape was mistakingly ejected and the game continued to play before the person demoing the unit realized their mistake and quickly pressed the reset. This was probably at the Summer ‘83 CES and suggests the enhanced game that was being demoed was actually contained on Prom chip(s) on the SGM PCB and the drive was not actually functional at the time.

 

The review that was written and mentioned above suggests that Coleco R&D actually developed working units. As we all know now, Coleco R&D eventually decided that the wafer tapes were not reliable enough for a commercial product and the rest is history re the Adam Digital Data Drive.

Edited by NIAD
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3 hours ago, NIAD said:

At one of these trade shows it was reported that one of the demo games that was on a wafer tape was mistakingly ejected and the game continued to play before the person demoing the unit realized their mistake and quickly pressed the reset. This was probably at the Summer ‘83 CES and suggests the enhanced game that was being demoed was actually contained on Prom chip(s) on the SGM PCB and the drive was not actually functional at the time.

 

The review that was written and mentioned above suggests that Coleco R&D actually developed working units. As we all know now, Coleco R&D eventually decided that the wafer tapes were not reliable enough for a commercial product and the rest is history re the Adam Digital Data Drive.

Another interesting read about the SGM from the ColecoVision.dk site:

 

Here is what former Coleco employee Bill Rose wrote:
Date: March 15, 2010.

 

SGM Another great story.  The microwafer drive was the endless loop I mentioned. Didn't work.  The Supergame Module was supposed to be based on that but as CES neared we realized it couldn't cut it.  The unit that went to CES had to use ROM'd games "under the covers". The tapes only held the ROM bank select number repeated over and over.  We would simply read the ROM bank code off the tapes, delay starting the game for a period of time and then play it from ROM.  Had some quirks too. If someone removed the tape during play and put in another tape, the old game continued to play unless they hit reset.  Some uncomfortable moments in front of press as the demonstrator screwed up. The rest is history.

 

http://www.colecovision.dk/sgm.htm

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Well reading this whole thread was quite fun!  I'm probably a shade younger than most of the CV/ADAM generation commenting.  I grew up in a lower middle class town, so very very few people had any type of computer back then, couldn't afford them.  In my early childhood, owning a computer, particularly one a kid or teen had access to at home, was simply not customary.  I read the recounting all the time about how the console market crashed and people moved on to computers, but I'm just saying that to much of America at least that just wasn't the case.  A TON of people suffered through those years with old systems they often bought old games for.  There would still have been a marketplace for cartridge games, but really only Atari were still producing them.  Computers and disk-games, ehhh, that was a bridge too far for a lot of people.  Granted the Atari systems and the C64 were selling at $150 or less by 1985, the monitors cost a fortune though you could use a TV of course. 

 

I just think back and wonder if ONE of the big 3 had simple continued to support a console?  All we had were the horribly outdated 2600 and largely outdated Intellivision, getting a smattering of "new" titles.  The 5200 Jr. with better sticks, or the 7800 post-1984 launch, or the Coleco SGM (at least something feasible unlike those wafer disasters), that would have been very cool.  I think at least one of them would have really taken market share at that point, prior to the NES hitting the ground 3 years later or so.  Sigh.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

Not necessarily, like I said, I can't remember the "when" when it comes to the show I went to, it would have been sometime between the ColecoVision's release and when they first advertised the SGM and the SAC. 

In January 1983 in Las Vegas there was the Consumer Eletcronics Show (CES).  Then in February there was New York Toy Fair.  And then summer CES in Chicago.  My understanding is that with New York Toy Fair, exhibits can show up at various locations of the city in addition to the main exhibit centre.  The guy that wrote the article in Electronic Fun magazine saw it at New York Toy Fair.

Edited by mr_me

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14 hours ago, Greg2600 said:

I just think back and wonder if ONE of the big 3 had simple continued to support a console?  All we had were the horribly outdated 2600 and largely outdated Intellivision, getting a smattering of "new" titles.  The 5200 Jr. with better sticks, or the 7800 post-1984 launch, or the Coleco SGM (at least something feasible unlike those wafer disasters), that would have been very cool.  I think at least one of them would have really taken market share at that point, prior to the NES hitting the ground 3 years later or so.  Sigh.

Even if an interesting new console had been released, I don't think it would have worked. You have to keep in mind that that the "video game crash of 1984", as most people call it, wasn't just about Atari and other industry players going out of business, it was about retailers generally losing faith in the video game industry. At the time, North-American retailers were clearing off all their consoles and games in their bargain bins, believing that the video game fad was over, and that home computers were the next big thing. A new console released by Coleco at that time would have been unlikely to convince retailers to give video games another chance. It took the NES and SMS to make them realize there was still a large market for dedicated cartridge-based consoles. Kids still wanted to play video games, after all.

 

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2 hours ago, mr_me said:

In January 1983 in Las Vegas there was the Consumer Eletcronics Show (CES).  Then in February there was New York Toy Fair.  And then summer CES in Chicago.  My understanding is that with New York Toy Fair, exhibits can show up at various locations of the city in addition to the main exhibit centre.  The guy that wrote the article in Electronic Fun magazine saw it at New York Toy Fair.

So the year matches up as I would have been 16 at the time and in 10th grade and I remember my girlfriend playing Donkey Kong on my ColecoVision.

 

I don't remember the show being in NYC I thought it was at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  I'm not remembering it as strictly toy related more electronics or computers, so most likely it was some other show that Coleco was at, could have been a computer show or something.  

 

 

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37 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

So the year matches up as I would have been 16 at the time and in 10th grade and I remember my girlfriend playing Donkey Kong on my ColecoVision.

 

I don't remember the show being in NYC I thought it was at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  I'm not remembering it as strictly toy related more electronics or computers, so most likely it was some other show that Coleco was at, could have been a computer show or something.  

 

 

There was also the ''Electronic Fun Expo'' as well in NY 

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1 hour ago, Pixelboy said:

Even if an interesting new console had been released, I don't think it would have worked. You have to keep in mind that that the "video game crash of 1984", as most people call it, wasn't just about Atari and other industry players going out of business, it was about retailers generally losing faith in the video game industry. At the time, North-American retailers were clearing off all their consoles and games in their bargain bins, believing that the video game fad was over, and that home computers were the next big thing. A new console released by Coleco at that time would have been unlikely to convince retailers to give video games another chance. It took the NES and SMS to make them realize there was still a large market for dedicated cartridge-based consoles. Kids still wanted to play video games, after all.

 

 

Exactly, the crash was not about people stop buying games, which in fact sold more in 1983 than in 1982. Instead it was the retail channel getting clogged with dead stock because there were too many of them for the market size at that point. If games aren't selling, they don't make space for new games and so on. So retailers stop buying them. For companies that means that: 1) your new game doesn't sell as much, because fewer retailers are placing orders. 2) a lot of dead stock was being returned. Thus massive losses. The NES probably worked because by 1985/86 retail had already got rid of most of the dead stock.

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You know that old question which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

 

Well, which came first the SGM or the Adam?  I am curious if the Adam was in development all along or only came into being after the plug was pulled on the SGM?  Or were they developed together, in tandem or part of the same "expansion" project?  

 

There is a reason to my madness...

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Video Games Sales in North America

 

1980 - $463  million
1981 - $956  million
1982 - $2.921 billion
1983 - $2       billion
1984 - $817  million
1985 - $200  million
1986 - $430  million
1987 - $830  million
1988 - $1.3  billion
 

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1 minute ago, retroillucid said:

Video Games Sales in North America

 

1980 - $463  million
1981 - $956  million
1982 - $2.921 billion
1983 - $2       billion
1984 - $817  million
1985 - $200  million
1986 - $430  million
1987 - $830  million
1988 - $1.3  billion
 

Plot that on a chart and you've got your very own gut wrenching roller coaster 😬

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Just now, Ikrananka said:

Plot that on a chart and you've got your very own gut wrenching roller coaster 😬

Indeed 
You can see why Coleco sold off their CV inventory in 1985 to Telegames

And you can see when the NES started to took off in America 

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2 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

So the year matches up as I would have been 16 at the time and in 10th grade and I remember my girlfriend playing Donkey Kong on my ColecoVision.

 

I don't remember the show being in NYC I thought it was at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  I'm not remembering it as strictly toy related more electronics or computers, so most likely it was some other show that Coleco was at, could have been a computer show or something.  

 

 

Winter, spring, summer?  SGM was probably cancelled by fall.

 

1 hour ago, 128Kgames said:

You know that old question which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

 

Well, which came first the SGM or the Adam?  I am curious if the Adam was in development all along or only came into being after the plug was pulled on the SGM?  Or were they developed together, in tandem or part of the same "expansion" project?  

 

There is a reason to my madness...

They promoted colevovision to be expandable to a computer from the beginning.  The proposed SGM could have been part of it.  It's got ram, rewritable storage, and an expansion slot of its own for a keyboard, printer, and more.  At some point they also decided on a standalone computer.

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From New York Times. I remember other sources, from magazines to Phoenix (the book), cartridge sales were up in 1983, at lower prices, thus lower revenue. Public was still there. 

 

Quote

There are two parts to the home- game business: the game-machine modules, or hardware, which consist of compact plastic boxes that are linked to televisions by long cords, and the cartridges, or software, that are inserted into the modules.

Christopher Kirby, an analyst with Sanford Bernstein & Company, said he expects module sales will tumble to between 5.5 million and 6 million units in 1983, from 8 million sold last year. Since game machines are priced lower, he thinks dollar revenue could plunge by 50 percent or more.

Industry people are still expecting 80 million to 90 million game cartridges to be sold, up from about 65 million last year. But Mr. Kirby expects orders from manufacturers to be off about 20 percent, since a lot of the sales will be from inventory sitting on shelves from last year. Because of deep discounting, Mr. Kirby said, the dollar value of cartridge sales should tumble to about $1.3 billion, from $1.6 billion last year.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/17/business/video-games-industry-comes-down-to-earth.html

 

Assuming the $2.9 revenue to be true, since cartridge was $1.6 B, hardware was $1.3 B. In 1983 cartridge is down to $1.3 B (but cartridges sales is up in # units sold), while hardware is down 50%, thus $650 M. And you get your $2 B. ;)

 

Thus public interest was still there.

 

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1 hour ago, 128Kgames said:

You know that old question which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

 

Well, which came first the SGM or the Adam?  I am curious if the Adam was in development all along or only came into being after the plug was pulled on the SGM?  Or were they developed together, in tandem or part of the same "expansion" project?  

 

There is a reason to my madness...

 

If I remember correctly, the original plan was (don't remember the source):

 

1) release SGM, 32KB of RAM, tape drive

2) release keyboard component, with another 32KB + BASIC

 

Keyboard connects into SGM, thus the expansion port passthrough in the SGM. In the end the result would be about the same, a 64KB computer with a tape drive. 

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What would have been the reliability of a stringyfloppy? I can't imagine those exceeded that of a standard diskette?

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