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

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Posted (edited)

In early 82, Coleco demoed their SGM at trade shows

 

Mid 82, Coleco want their SGM to have a keyboard 
Coleco turned the SGM project into Computer project


They start designing a Computer, using the Wafer tapes (1st ADAM Prototype)
Coleco later realized the Wafer tape were unreliable 
So they re-designed their computer to use String tapes  (2nd ADAM protoype)

Summer 1983 (June/July)
Coleco realized the String tapes were not much more reliable than the Wafer tapes
They re-designed the ADAM to use what we all know, the DDP  
 

Edited by retroillucid

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21 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

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

 

Sounds like anything with a disk drive..

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4 hours ago, opcode said:

 

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. 

 

3 hours ago, retroillucid said:

In early 82, Coleco demoed their SGM at trade shows

 

Mid 82, Coleco want their SGM to have a keyboard 
Coleco turned the SGM project into Computer project


They start designing a Computer, using the Wafer tapes (1st ADAM Prototype)
Coleco later realized the Wafer tape were unreliable 
So they re-designed their computer to use String tapes  (2nd ADAM protoype)

Summer 1983 (June/July)
Coleco realized the String tapes were not much more reliable than the Wafer tapes
They re-designed the ADAM to use what we all know, the DDP  
 

Thanks guys, appreciate your responses. 

 

Reason I asked is because I think I found an article about the ''Electronic Fun Expo'' in NY (thanks J-F) which lines up with at least some of what I remembered:

 

The New Yorker, November 21, 1983 P. 44

 

Talk story about New York's Electronic Fun Week, which was highlighted by the Electronic Fun Expo. It opened with a small Electronic Fun Parade & continued for 4 days, giving the 52,000 people who paid $7.50 each a chance to have fun & buy products. The Expo unfolded on the 2nd floor of the Coliseum where people stood at the Coleco-Vision booth, having fun with Adam, a new home computer that comes with a free video game. 

 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1983/11/21/fun-9

 

"Coliseum" would have been the old Nassau Coliseum which was renovated a few years back (and now thanks to COVID-19 is up for sale due to losses).  What's confusing is they say the "Adam" was on display but I distinctly remember seeing the SGM, so its possible I'm either 1) confused or 2) I went to more than 1 show over the years.  

 

Crap, getting old sucks...

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2 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

 

Thanks guys, appreciate your responses. 

 

Reason I asked is because I think I found an article about the ''Electronic Fun Expo'' in NY (thanks J-F) which lines up with at least some of what I remembered:

 

The New Yorker, November 21, 1983 P. 44

 

Talk story about New York's Electronic Fun Week, which was highlighted by the Electronic Fun Expo. It opened with a small Electronic Fun Parade & continued for 4 days, giving the 52,000 people who paid $7.50 each a chance to have fun & buy products. The Expo unfolded on the 2nd floor of the Coliseum where people stood at the Coleco-Vision booth, having fun with Adam, a new home computer that comes with a free video game. 

 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1983/11/21/fun-9

 

"Coliseum" would have been the old Nassau Coliseum which was renovated a few years back (and now thanks to COVID-19 is up for sale due to losses).  What's confusing is they say the "Adam" was on display but I distinctly remember seeing the SGM, so its possible I'm either 1) confused or 2) I went to more than 1 show over the years.  

 

Crap, getting old sucks...


I'm currently working on a Coleco Video Documentary, so I'm really into this these days 
Glad to know it help you :)

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

 

Thanks guys, appreciate your responses. 

 

Reason I asked is because I think I found an article about the ''Electronic Fun Expo'' in NY (thanks J-F) which lines up with at least some of what I remembered:

 

The New Yorker, November 21, 1983 P. 44

 

Talk story about New York's Electronic Fun Week, which was highlighted by the Electronic Fun Expo. It opened with a small Electronic Fun Parade & continued for 4 days, giving the 52,000 people who paid $7.50 each a chance to have fun & buy products. The Expo unfolded on the 2nd floor of the Coliseum where people stood at the Coleco-Vision booth, having fun with Adam, a new home computer that comes with a free video game. 

 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1983/11/21/fun-9

 

"Coliseum" would have been the old Nassau Coliseum which was renovated a few years back (and now thanks to COVID-19 is up for sale due to losses).  What's confusing is they say the "Adam" was on display but I distinctly remember seeing the SGM, so its possible I'm either 1) confused or 2) I went to more than 1 show over the years.  

 

Crap, getting old sucks...

Could it have been november 1982?  In november 1983, the Adam expansion would have been available in retail stores, sgm already cancelled.

Edited by mr_me

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23 minutes ago, mr_me said:

Could it have been november 1982?  In november 1983, the Adam expansion would have been available in retail stores, sgm already cancelled.

I don’t think they had disclosed the SGM yet that early. If I remember the SGM was something that only lasted a few months from its announcement to cancellation for the ADAM. 
But anyways, by that point Coleco was doing all the cool and innovative stuff that Atari couldn’t because they were just a shell marketing and design company.  

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Yeah, the electronic fun expo debuted in november 1983.  They didn't have one in 1982.

 

In 1983 Atari was a company with 10000 employees.  Although some of their top engineers left years prior they were still able to waste hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D on products that were never released like their XLD line of computers, mindlink system, their videophones, and tech to broadcast video game distribution over the air direct to consumers.  They also had an agreement with their former  employees at Amiga funding that development.  They started cancelling projects in later 1983 and in July 1984 they were out of consumer electronics completely also shutting down all of their R&D including their Cyan Engineering R&D unit, Sunnyvale lab, Cambridge Lab, and LA lab.  They did survive as a company making arcade games and later returned to developing home video games for various systems until they were finally shut down in 2003.

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2 minutes ago, mr_me said:

Yeah, the electronic fun expo debuted in november 1983.  They didn't have one in 1982.

 

In 1983 Atari was a company with 10000 employees.  Although some of their top engineers left years prior they were still able to waste hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D on products that were never released like their XLD line of computers, mindlink system, their videophones, and tech to broadcast video game distribution over the air direct to consumers.  They also had an agreement with their former  employees at Amiga funding that development.  They started cancelling projects in later 1983 and in July 1984 they were out of consumer electronics completely also shutting down all of their R&D including their Cyan Engineering R&D unit, Sunnyvale lab, Cambridge Lab, and LA lab.  They did survive as a company making arcade games and later returned to developing home video games for various systems until they were finally shut down in 2003.

 

Yeah, I know they had 10k employees. But, that said, they couldn't get a single new hardware developed after the Atari 800, back in 1979. Their core consumer video game business in 1983/1984 was mostly GCC. How can we explain that a $2B company couldn't develop their own next generation system and had to resort to a 3rd party. (or two, if we count the Famicom deal)? How a video game company with 10k employees couldn't produce their own games, and what was being made internally was mostly subpar stuff (compared to GCC or Activision). So by 1983 they didn't have a smash hit console or computer, and most of their arcade releases were actually Namco's. There was very little innovation going on, it was mostly nice packaging presentation and marketing. And it is well documented by now that was indeed their mentality, anything with a license, good packaging, and proper marketing will sell... Coleco was doing the cool stuff IMHO.

 

And yeah, they were wasting a ton of money and time on research that wasn't going anywhere. Like, they had a half dozen completely different computer systems in development at the same time, by different teams, no clear goal. I don't think upper management had any intention of releasing anything different at that point. They had Allan Kay, huge waste of talent, nothing he and his team produced was released or got close of being released AFAIK. They were expending huge money on what I heard was mostly academic research. Like, why? Completely dysfunctional management. No wonder they went down....

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8 hours ago, opcode said:

I don’t think they had disclosed the SGM yet that early. If I remember the SGM was something that only lasted a few months from its announcement to cancellation for the ADAM. 
But anyways, by that point Coleco was doing all the cool and innovative stuff that Atari couldn’t because they were just a shell marketing and design company.  


Coleco started working on the ''Computer project'' in the Summer of 82
The SGM prototype was already made at that point

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On 6/26/2020 at 3:12 PM, 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.

 

I disagree.  People would have gone to the store and asked about it.  Commodore tried to kill off the C64 later on and demand at retail "forced" Commodore to keep making it.

It was too early IMHO for Coleco to kill off the Colecovision and create a new console.  I think their customers would have been pretty TOd at them had they done that.  The 2600 and Intellivision were older than the Colecovision. It made a bit more sense for Atari.  The SGM (without an Adam release), assuming they got it right, would have been the far better option. They might probably even still exist and might have been a major player.

 

23 hours ago, opcode said:

 

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.

 

I think it was more of a shake-out of a lot of weak players.  Atari, Coleco and Mattel had taken on enormous debt in a very high interest rate environment.  The lack of a lockout chip hurt the companies too with lousy 3rd party software flooding the market. The crash basically killed off the American game console market for a long time.

 

 

Really, anyone in 1984 who believed, truly believed video games were a fad, let alone that it was over was a fool.  Even the move to home computers wasn't going to put an end to the video games industry and it was perfectly obvious at the time.  What should have been obvious was that home computers were the actual fad.  Most of the people who bought home computers were doing so to play games.  Hell, even today a home computer without internet is almost useless in an average home.  The entire industry of retail computer sales aimed at homes would not exist if not for the Internet.  Outside of a few special use cases, family computers of that era were little more than games machines rationalized by unlikely home uses.  The one thing they were OK at doing that was likely to be utilized was word processing and there were better solutions for that use well into the 90s in the form of dedicated word processors. Most were small enough to be put in a closet when not in use.  Even this use case (for home computers) just isn't that convincing. The software wasn't very good, wasn't very easy and the print quality not that good. Most of the use cases were a stretch at best with things like recipes, phone directories and diallers, spreadsheets (for what?) 

 

Home computers were the fad, not video game consoles and it was or should have been obvious to anyone even at the time.

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7 hours ago, opcode said:

 

Yeah, I know they had 10k employees. But, that said, they couldn't get a single new hardware developed after the Atari 800, back in 1979. Their core consumer video game business in 1983/1984 was mostly GCC. How can we explain that a $2B company couldn't develop their own next generation system and had to resort to a 3rd party. (or two, if we count the Famicom deal)? How a video game company with 10k employees couldn't produce their own games, and what was being made internally was mostly subpar stuff (compared to GCC or Activision). So by 1983 they didn't have a smash hit console or computer, and most of their arcade releases were actually Namco's. There was very little innovation going on, it was mostly nice packaging presentation and marketing. And it is well documented by now that was indeed their mentality, anything with a license, good packaging, and proper marketing will sell... Coleco was doing the cool stuff IMHO.

 

And yeah, they were wasting a ton of money and time on research that wasn't going anywhere. Like, they had a half dozen completely different computer systems in development at the same time, by different teams, no clear goal. I don't think upper management had any intention of releasing anything different at that point. They had Allan Kay, huge waste of talent, nothing he and his team produced was released or got close of being released AFAIK. They were expending huge money on what I heard was mostly academic research. Like, why? Completely dysfunctional management. No wonder they went down....

What in God's good name would 10k people (working for Atari) even do?  This is Price's law at work!  It is probably worse than Price's law would reflect.  Price's law is the concept that the square root of the number of employees do 1/2 of the work or generate 1/2 of the revenue of a company.

 

Instead of hiring 10k people, they should have paid the programmers more or gave them commission and put their names on the box.  As inefficient as they were (having 10k employees), had their talent gotten what they wanted, they could have made enough money for the company to pay for all that fat. But they couldn't retain the people who were generating all of the money for really dumb reasons.  The guys who founded Activision probably wouldn't have done it had they been receiving both the credit and a nice royalty. The risks of starting Activision would have been a lot higher for them.  Royalty contracts could have kept them from leaving too.

 

Atari was a disaster and a case study for running a company into the ground.  They should have at least had engineers working on the shortcomings of the 2600 and making up for it as best they could with cartridge hardware.  Sara was a good start.  Obviously a new 2600 should have been on the drawing board.  Bushnell said they expected 2 years from the 2600.  A follow up should have been ready by 1980 or 1981.  Had he still been running Atari, the utter disaster might have been avoided.  They were the authors of their downfall.

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57 minutes ago, retroillucid said:


Coleco started working on the ''Computer project'' in the Summer of 82
The SGM prototype was already made at that point

 

If it was presented in 1982, why every single source of info about the SGM says it was unveiled early 1983 (probably at New York Toy Fair), including Coleco's own Annual Report.

 

Quote

Our software line has been expanded for 1983 and by year end there will be approx- imately 35 ColecoVision titles on the mar- ket. The most popular arcade titles will continue to be the backbone of our library, including Donkey Kong Junior, Buck Rogers, Time Pilot and Looping.

Early this year, Coleco introduced a tech- nologically advanced Super Game Module with memory capacity substan- tially greater than video game cartridges presently on the market. This will make the most advanced computerized enter- tainment software available for Coleco- Vision.

 

http://adamarchive.org/archive/Media/- Coleco Annual Report 1982.pdf

 

InfoWorld is another source online saying New York Toy Fair 1983.

 

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2 minutes ago, opcode said:

 

If it was presented in 1982, why every single source of info about the SGM says it was unveiled early 1983 (probably at New York Toy Fair), including Coleco's own Annual Report.

 

 

http://adamarchive.org/archive/Media/- Coleco Annual Report 1982.pdf

 

InfoWorld is another source online saying New York Toy Fair 1983.

 

 

Here's one proof

cv-adam-proto.jpg

cv-computer-proto-sign.jpg

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Posted (edited)

 

2 hours ago, christo930 said:

I think it was more of a shake-out of a lot of weak players.  Atari, Coleco and Mattel had taken on enormous debt in a very high interest rate environment.  The lack of a lockout chip hurt the companies too with lousy 3rd party software flooding the market. The crash basically killed off the American game console market for a long time.

Whatever it was I'm glad it happened. I clearly recall having to spend nearly 15 minutes sorting through all the shit on the shelves, just to find something hopefully worthwhile. There was simply too much.

 

Quote

 Really, anyone in 1984 who believed, truly believed video games were a fad, let alone that it was over was a fool.  Even the move to home computers wasn't going to put an end to the video games industry and it was perfectly obvious at the time.  What should have been obvious was that home computers were the actual fad.  Most of the people who bought home computers were doing so to play games.  Hell, even today a home computer without internet is almost useless in an average home.  The entire industry of retail computer sales aimed at homes would not exist if not for the Internet.

Once I outgrew game consoles I had to get into something more versatile. And the home computer was it. Sure I played games on it. But I also did word processing and star chart printing, among other specialty activities.

 

Quote

Outside of a few special use cases, family computers of that era were little more than games machines rationalized by unlikely home uses.  The one thing they were OK at doing that was likely to be utilized was word processing and there were better solutions for that use well into the 90s in the form of dedicated word processors. Most were small enough to be put in a closet when not in use.  Even this use case (for home computers) just isn't that convincing. The software wasn't very good, wasn't very easy and the print quality not that good. Most of the use cases were a stretch at best with things like recipes, phone directories and diallers, spreadsheets (for what?) 

 

Home computers were the fad, not video game consoles and it was or should have been obvious to anyone even at the time.

I would tend to disagree that home computers were a fad. If they were, it's a pretty long-running fad. From the late 70's till today.

 

But I do agree that so-called common tasks like recipe keeping, stock market analysis, or checkbook balancing or automotive maintenance record storage were not really practical on the early machines. It would take more work to incorporate using a computer than to just use a pencil and paper with folder.

 

Word processing on computers became very user friendly and practical way earlier than the mid-90's. Maybe not Windows/Mac easy, but reference-card easy. I was doing solid work on the Apple II. And big name authors were using '286 rigs in 1982 to write movie scripts and novels.

Edited by Keatah

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Here's one proof
cv-adam-proto.thumb.jpg.1241f5030130c6efd18f4c424ae6a753.jpg
cv-computer-proto-sign.jpg.344dee04485f090a610690d326230ebf.jpg

I know J-F, I didn’t say they were not developing in 1982. What i said was that all sources say they publicly unveiled or announced the SGM in early 1983. That was the point of the discussion, that probably the SGM that 128kgames saw was in 1983, not 1982. But of course I could be wrong.


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49 minutes ago, retroillucid said:

 

Here's one proof

cv-adam-proto.jpg

cv-computer-proto-sign.jpg

Damn I would have liked that design!  Reminds me (kind of) how one of the Astrocade computer add ons was supposed to look.

 

astrocade_zgrass.JPG.b06ee7ccc6eb6ae30a3b42e17d791e0b.JPG

 

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10 minutes ago, opcode said:


I know J-F, I didn’t say they were not developing in 1982. What i said was that all sources say they publicly unveiled or announced the SGM in early 1983. That was the point of the discussion, that probably the SGM that 128kgames saw was in 1983, not 1982. But of course I could be wrong.


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Gotcha, 

But the SGM has been showed in June of 1982 

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10 minutes ago, retroillucid said:

Gotcha, 

But the SGM has been showed in June of 1982 

 

Where? Picture or video, or it didn't happen! :P 

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2 minutes ago, opcode said:

 

Where? Picture or video, or it didn't happen! :P 

ahahah, I won't blame you if you don't believe me ;) 😜

But with all the informations I've gathered (and it's alot), the CV was already in the works in 1981, the expansion port was already in the design, because Coleco knew they were going to expand the system 
They already had a SGM prototype in early 1982 that they showed to the investors and marketting people 

Anyway, you're all going to see this in my upcoming Coleco Video Documentary ;)

 

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1 minute ago, retroillucid said:

ahahah, I won't blame you if you don't believe me ;) 😜

But with all the informations I've gathered (and it's alot), the CV was already in the works in 1981, the expansion port was already in the design, because Coleco knew they were going to expand the system 
They already had a SGM prototype in early 1982 that they showed to the investors and marketting people 

Anyway, you're all going to see this in my upcoming Coleco Video Documentary ;)

 

 

Ok, fine, but that is still a closed showing, investors and marketing. So again, I don't think 128kgames saw it in 1982, unless he was an investor or marketing guy. :P 

AFAIK, from the media and general audience POV, the SGM was something that lasted just a few months, probably from January/February to June or something. And it made quite an impact for such a short lived piece of vaporware....

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19 minutes ago, Keatah said:

 

Whatever it was I'm glad it happened. I clearly recall having to spend nearly 15 minutes sorting through all the shit on the shelves, just to find something hopefully worthwhile. There was simply too much.

 

Once I outgrew game consoles I had to get into something more versatile. And the home computer was it. Sure I played games on it. But I also did word processing and star chart printing, among other specialty activities.

 

I would tend to disagree that home computers were a fad. If they were, it's a pretty long-running fad. From the late 70's till today.

 

But I do agree that so-called common tasks like recipe keeping, stock market analysis, or checkbook balancing or automotive maintenance record storage were not really practical on the early machines. It would take more work to incorporate using a computer than to just use a pencil and paper with folder.

 

Word processing on computers became very user friendly and practical way earlier than the mid-90's. Maybe not Windows/Mac easy, but reference-card easy. I was doing solid work on the Apple II. And big name authors were using '286 rigs in 1982 to write movie scripts and novels.

I'm not really glad it happened.  It was a great loss for America and certainly for the consumer, at least for the rest of the 80s. Nintendo basically had the console market almost entirely to itself and largely because of its monopolistic practices.

 

286 PC were not family computers.   I suppose I should have been more precise.  By family computer I generally mean the 8 bit computers minus the Apple II, which was far more prosumer than family.

Writing a book on a 286 is nor far fetched and you are not spreading it across multiple discs and a new file every few pages (most books are between 4-500,000 and a million characters long).  The book is going to be professionally formatted and printed by a publisher using appropriate equipment. With the exception of the Apple II, they couldn't really be upgraded to an 80 column screen or with additional RAM.

Aside from an Apple II, which word processing software are you talking about?

 

The home computer market was a fad that didn't really return until the mid 90s and the internet and then that was with PCs. There was a market for home PCs, but it was generally just a low end PC, not a completely separate platform in the sense of an Atari, Adam or Commodore.   I personally (later on) bought a low end used PC (a Compaq Luggable with 640k in 1993).

 

The Apple II was an exception, but it was also a lot more money than an Atari or Commodore or Adam. 

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3 minutes ago, opcode said:

 

Ok, fine, but that is still a closed showing, investors and marketing. So again, I don't think 128kgames saw it in 1982, unless he was an investor or marketing guy. :P 

AFAIK, from the media and general audience POV, the SGM was something that lasted just a few months, probably from January/February to June or something. And it made quite an impact for such a short lived piece of vaporware....

That's correct
The general consumers didn't had access to test the SGM, but the SGM started appearing at various Shows (NY, Chicago and Las Vegas) for media and retailers only




 

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1 hour ago, opcode said:

Ok, fine, but that is still a closed showing, investors and marketing. So again, I don't think 128kgames saw it in 1982, unless he was an investor or marketing guy. :P 

Not me man, I was 15 in '82!  

 

This might help: when was the Super Action controller set released?  Cause I remember that at the same show as the SGM and I don't think it was released yet.  The SAC was the only "add on" I bought for the Coleco other than the driving controller.

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If someone here is interested in contributing to my Coleco Documentary, feel free to contact me
I'll share you my TXT file, you'll see there's ALOT to read there ;) 

 

Althouh, you will need to know the Coleco history, alot!
Specially the ColecoVision/ADAM part 


 

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1 hour ago, retroillucid said:

ahahah, I won't blame you if you don't believe me ;) 😜

But with all the informations I've gathered (and it's alot), the CV was already in the works in 1981, the expansion port was already in the design, because Coleco knew they were going to expand the system 
They already had a SGM prototype in early 1982 that they showed to the investors and marketting people 

Anyway, you're all going to see this in my upcoming Coleco Video Documentary ;)

 

Is this going to be on YT by yt I mean free?

 

One thing I think would be interesting is highlighting the game making process in these early days. 

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