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Frozone212

Who decided it was a good idea to put the power supply in the printer?

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Printer's are fickle machines already, it costs an arm and a leg for ink, so why on god's green earth did they OK some idiot's idea to put the main power supply  in the one peripheral that might die immediately from some unforeseen accident or cataclysm that no one can predict like, oh say, Coleco going bankrupt and the machine dying the day beforehand.

 

really, the issues read like a how to on ruining a child's birthday surprise.

 

But in all seriousness, who thought this was ok. Even the zx80 didn't have this many issues

 

 

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Probably the same person at Atari who thought it was a wonderful idea to run the power through the RF switchbox for the 5200.

 

 ..Al

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So the very same person worked for RCA in mid 70's, then briefly moved onto Atari before ending up at Coleco?

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15 hours ago, Albert said:

Probably the same person at Atari who thought it was a wonderful idea to run the power through the RF switchbox for the 5200.

 

 ..Al

Nolan Bushnell??? 😳

 

and before everyone piles on, I know he was gone by then!

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Ok I'll admit It was me!   It was meant as a joke but got out of hand. 

 

Some of my other "humorous" suggestions

"Hey, why don't we make the 5200 joysticks non-centering?   That would be innovative!"

"You know what E.T. really needs?  Pits!   Then it will be popular like Pitfall!"

 

😜

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I suppose those who designed e.g. the Amstrad CPC and IIRC Microbee went to the same symposium about strange ways to route power to a system, i.e. through the custom monitor. The Microbee even combines 9V in with cassette load/save and video out, all in the same 5-pin DIN connector.

 

Perhaps the industry had a designer award for the most obscure design of the year, and all of those companies tried every year to win it? It probably was particularly hard in 1982-83 if both Atari and Coleco competed with roughly the same concept and implementation.

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To me, this was the result of a string of "logical" decisions that, at the time, didn't seem like a bad idea:

 

- We want to make a family computer that does more than play games.

- Okay, so what would this computer offer to a family in terms of useful features?

- Well, they would probably need to type stuff, like they do with a typewriter. Students and parents alike tend to do that on a regular basis.

- Good idea! Perhaps would could have a typewriter as the default program when you turn the computer on.

- Yeah, but a computer can be much more than just a glorified typewriter.

- Alright, so we'll include two modes, a typewriter mode and a word processor where you type first and print later.

- This all sounds really good, but if you're going to have this kind of software as the default boot software, then shouldn't the computer come with a proper printer?

- Well yeah, that's kind of an understatement, isn't it?  Ha! Ha!

- Is it also an understatement that the printer and the memory console will each have their own power supply blocks?

- Ouch! No, wait, that's way too many wires, especially given that the ColecoVision will not be able to provide enough juice to power the custom tape drives. We need to simplify the design.

- Well, since we want to include a printer in every box, how about we daisy-chain the power through the printer? That'd be one less power supply to worry about.

- Splendid idea! Let's do that!

- Umm... This printer is going to be big and loud. Are we sure we want to force everyone to use it? What if they want to use a different printer, like one of those newfangled dot matrix printers?

- Sorry, I thought I heard noise. Did you say something?

- (*Sigh*) Never mind...

 

:dunce: 

 

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6 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

To me, this was the result of a string of "logical" decisions that, at the time, didn't seem like a bad idea:

 

- We want to make a family computer that does more than play games.

- Okay, so what would this computer offer to a family in terms of useful features?

- Well, they would probably need to type stuff, like they do with a typewriter. Students and parents alike tend to do that on a regular basis.

- Good idea! Perhaps would could have a typewriter as the default program when you turn the computer on.

- Yeah, but a computer can be much more than just a glorified typewriter.

- Alright, so we'll include two modes, a typewriter mode and a word processor where you type first and print later.

- This all sounds really good, but if you're going to have this kind of software as the default boot software, then shouldn't the computer come with a proper printer?

- Well yeah, that's kind of an understatement, isn't it?  Ha! Ha!

- Is it also an understatement that the printer and the memory console will each have their own power supply blocks?

- Ouch! No, wait, that's way too many wires, especially given that the ColecoVision will not be able to provide enough juice to power the custom tape drives. We need to simplify the design.

- Well, since we want to include a printer in every box, how about we daisy-chain the power through the printer? That'd be one less power supply to worry about.

- Splendid idea! Let's do that!

- Umm... This printer is going to be big and loud. Are we sure we want to force everyone to use it? What if they want to use a different printer, like one of those newfangled dot matrix printers?

- Sorry, I thought I heard noise. Did you say something?

- (*Sigh*) Never mind...

 

:dunce: 

 

A printer with every Adam, whether you want one or not, and a Kinect with every Xbox One whether you want one or not. 

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On 5/10/2021 at 6:14 PM, Frozone212 said:

Printer's are fickle machines already, it costs an arm and a leg for ink, so why on god's green earth did they OK some idiot's idea to put the main power supply  in the one peripheral that might die immediately from some unforeseen accident or cataclysm that no one can predict like, oh say, Coleco going bankrupt and the machine dying the day beforehand.

 

really, the issues read like a how to on ruining a child's birthday surprise.

 

But in all seriousness, who thought this was ok. Even the zx80 didn't have this many issues

 

 

I'm thinking the marketing department.  The same people who allowed the 5200 stick onto the market and who decided games by Intellivision could never flicker and those god-awful sadists who approved the final Colecovision controllers.

If the printer uses more power than the Adam computer itself, that might be the reason, to cut down on the cable.  But the Adam, I think, uses a decent amount of power (I got rid of the ones I had a long time ago, and I don't really remember).  There was also probably more room to work with in the printer.

 

 

On 5/10/2021 at 6:15 PM, Albert said:

Probably the same person at Atari who thought it was a wonderful idea to run the power through the RF switchbox for the 5200.

 

 ..Al

That was a great idea, well, at least not as bad as it seems.  It worked great and it wasn't the year 2021 with people buying loose 5200s on EBAY without the parts that were included in the box.  A lot of people had their TVs way back in entertainment centers where the TV/Game switch wasn't exactly easy to get to.  Don't forget the nest of wires. That's one less wire going to the 5200.   Until the NES, none of the other systems could do this.

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3 hours ago, christo930 said:

 those god-awful sadists who approved the final Colecovision controllers.

 

What's wrong with the Colecovision Controllers?  .  They were very good.   

 

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2 hours ago, youki said:

What's wrong with the Colecovision Controllers?  .  They were very good.   

 

Yes, very good at giving hand cramps.  :twisted:

 

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4 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

Yes, very good at giving hand cramps.  :twisted:

 

The problem is not the controller, it is your hands :)  or the way you handle the controller. ;)

 

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8 hours ago, youki said:

What's wrong with the Colecovision Controllers?  .  They were very good.   

 

They are a bit hard on the hands and the placement of the buttons isn't great either. 

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26 minutes ago, christo930 said:

They are a bit hard on the hands and the placement of the buttons isn't great either. 

It's all in what you get used to, and perhaps a mixture of youth thrown in 😁.  I had played the Atari 2600 prior to getting my CV, my cousin had one and every time I went over to his house, we played it.  But then I broke my leg and was laid up for quite a while, right around Christmas time, then I received my CV as a Christmas present.  So I played the s&$t out of my CV and got so used to the controllers that when I finally got back over to my cousin's house, I had a hard time using his 2600 controllers.  It was the same story when I would go over to my friends' houses (I was the only one with a CV, all of them had Atari 2600's as well) to play their Ataris.  I even found it easier to play Atari games on my expansion module using the CV controllers, when I would borrow one of my friends' games.  I kind of joke about the youth part, but I do believe that plays a large part.  Not only having flexibility in getting used to a controller, but also the controller is likely better suited for smaller hands of a pre-tweener (8 or 9) to about mid-teens.  I have not set up my CV in years, so I am sure I would have problems adjusting to those controllers now, especially after getting used to more modern controllers while using emulators to play my favorite CV and Atari games. 

 

The controllers that I felt were not very comfortable to use were the CV Superaction controllers.  I did not like the joystick portion, it always felt too tall for me. 

 

Back to the topic, though, having also owned an Adam, I would have to say that it is very likely Coleco wanted to pull an Apple in that they wanted you locked into their world for any upgrades and peripherals (the comparison to Apple is for the Mac which were not as internally upgradeable as PC's were).  You could not easily use a 3rd party printer, you had to devise some way of powering the Adam without the included printer as well as provide an interface to the printer since the Adam did not come with a standard serial or parallel port. (I know that third parties came up with solutions after Coleco dropped the Adam.) I am sure had the Adam been successful enough to keep Coleco in business, they would have offered a dot matrix and perhaps a thermal transfer printer (I believe that's the technology that Okidata used for color printers) for those wanting to print graphics, and those printers would like have come with the the power supplies so you could disconnect the stock one and use the "upgrade" printer without missing a beat, but again, you'd be forced to use their HW.  Now I'm sure third parties would have cropped up to circumvent Coleco's plans even had Coleco stayed in business, as it happened after the Adam was orphaned, but I still see that as Coleco's plan and what they would have done and they probably would have tried to sue smaller third parties out of business. 

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2 hours ago, FmrAdamuser said:

It's all in what you get used to, and perhaps a mixture of youth thrown in 😁.  I had played the Atari 2600 prior to getting my CV, my cousin had one and every time I went over to his house, we played it.  But then I broke my leg and was laid up for quite a while, right around Christmas time, then I received my CV as a Christmas present.  So I played the s&$t out of my CV and got so used to the controllers that when I finally got back over to my cousin's house, I had a hard time using his 2600 controllers.  It was the same story when I would go over to my friends' houses (I was the only one with a CV, all of them had Atari 2600's as well) to play their Ataris.  I even found it easier to play Atari games on my expansion module using the CV controllers, when I would borrow one of my friends' games.  I kind of joke about the youth part, but I do believe that plays a large part.  Not only having flexibility in getting used to a controller, but also the controller is likely better suited for smaller hands of a pre-tweener (8 or 9) to about mid-teens.  I have not set up my CV in years, so I am sure I would have problems adjusting to those controllers now, especially after getting used to more modern controllers while using emulators to play my favorite CV and Atari games. 

 

The controllers that I felt were not very comfortable to use were the CV Superaction controllers.  I did not like the joystick portion, it always felt too tall for me. 

 

Back to the topic, though, having also owned an Adam, I would have to say that it is very likely Coleco wanted to pull an Apple in that they wanted you locked into their world for any upgrades and peripherals (the comparison to Apple is for the Mac which were not as internally upgradeable as PC's were).  You could not easily use a 3rd party printer, you had to devise some way of powering the Adam without the included printer as well as provide an interface to the printer since the Adam did not come with a standard serial or parallel port. (I know that third parties came up with solutions after Coleco dropped the Adam.) I am sure had the Adam been successful enough to keep Coleco in business, they would have offered a dot matrix and perhaps a thermal transfer printer (I believe that's the technology that Okidata used for color printers) for those wanting to print graphics, and those printers would like have come with the the power supplies so you could disconnect the stock one and use the "upgrade" printer without missing a beat, but again, you'd be forced to use their HW.  Now I'm sure third parties would have cropped up to circumvent Coleco's plans even had Coleco stayed in business, as it happened after the Adam was orphaned, but I still see that as Coleco's plan and what they would have done and they probably would have tried to sue smaller third parties out of business. 

You are possibly onto something with the young hands thing.  I didn't have a Colecovision as a kid, but I had friends that did. I don't recall liking that controller much, but I don't recall hating it either.  (I do recall hating the 5200 version the very first time a store actually had a working one in the store unit with Pac Man on display). The first time I owned my own Colecovision was in the mid 90s and by then I was in my 20s and I found they were good for some games (Pepper II I can never get that game to control with any other joystick), but not so great in other games and painful over a long play session.

But even today I absolutely despise the regular 2600 joystick.  Many long years ago I found some original Atari joysticks that are of a different from the common ones (internally) and much better construction.  But what is unique about them is they have MUCH more motion in the throw which means you start hitting resistance much later as you push the stick in the direction you want to move (as opposed to nearly immediately with a standard stick).  The button also has much more travel.  They don't say "top" on them, but otherwise look exactly the same.  They have a kind of suspension system inside.  These are just much easier on my 50 some year old hands.  I thought these were the ones that were from the original test release of the 2600 when it was still made in California (I think the test market was Ca).  But I have found several "in the wild" about as far from California as you can get in PA/NJ. I usually hold them through my shirt to keep that awful material off my hands.

 

 

It could be that they were thinking of this, but I really doubt it.  I seriously doubt Apple was self-consciously doing that either.  With Apple at least, it actually served a purpose.  I'm sure Jobs thought it was better and should be done this way in order to be superior, even if it cost more money for an Apple personality card.  Could have been just simple cost-cutting with Coleco.  Why include 2 separate power supplies when we're not offering stand-alone Adam computers with no printer?  You would think such a cunning company would have had a lock-out chip on the Colecovision.  It's not like they couldn't foresee all this competition as Activision etc were already making "3rd party" games for the 2600.  They might have just thought it would generate too much heat to put it in the Adam.

Has anyone ever asked Coleco engineers why they did it?

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What’s all the hoopla about the power supply being in the Printer! At least Coleco was nice enough to include it unlike Telegames USA not including a power supply with the Personal Arcade. 😎

 

All kidding aside, it comes down to cost savings, cost savings, cost savings especially for a bundled system such as the Adam and the inexperience in the computer field of management.

 

To follow up on some other things mentioned... Coleco had no plans to develop another printer (serial or parallel), no plans to release a separate power supply for the system, had prototyped the Universal Serial / Parallel Interface that used the ADAMnet Interface and thus required no software drivers, would have welcomed 3rd Party hardware and software developers but slow walked getting tech info out to them and when the roll out of the system got delayed and had issues... 3rd Party companies bailed.

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@NIAD - That might be true that Coleco had not thought that far ahead when they originally released the Adam, but had the Adam been successful enough to keep Coleco afloat, I am sure they would have tried to develop upgrades to keep the Adam fairly fresh prior to a second generation.  At the very least, assuming again the Adam was successful enough to generate a second generation (i.e. an "Adam2" 😆), I believe they would have had to confront that situation since, at least by then (I'm thinking around 1988-1989 timeframe is about the timeframe an Adam2 would have been brought out) there were enough inexpensive, decent quality 3rd party printers available to make the same kind of bundling that the original Adam had, less appealing to Coleco. 

 

But then, at this point, its all mental mast... er I mean gymnastics. 😉

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@Christo930 - I'm not sure what joystick you are referring to.  Granted, it has been a LOOONNGG time since I used an authentic A2600 joystick, my son did get one of those Atari 2600 joystick replica with built-in A2600 games, back in the early or mid 2000's and I want to say that the joystick had a pretty authentic feel to what I remember, which was not very good.  My nephew had a Gemini A2600 "clone", back in the day, that had pretty good joysticks (I want to say that the paddle controller, which was built into the other end of each joystick, got in the way at times). I forget if it was him or my cousin, but one of them had the Tron controller that came with the Tron game and I recall the controller was pretty good, I did not like the game, though. It was a bit bulky, though, so even though it was better than an original A2600 controller, IMHO, I still did not use it much.  

 

A5200, Can't comment, never knew anyone with one.  My cousin eventually got an Atari computer, I am not sure if it was the 600 or 800 XL, I believe it played A7800 cartridges and I think he had 7800 controllers for it (I know they were not the 2600 controllers and were not the 5200 controllers, not sure if the computer came with controllers or if he had to buy them separately, if separately, likely they were 7800 controllers).  I liked his computer and its compactness.  I'd probably have bought one had my third Adam not worked out (the first two I bought, I had to return because they did not work, had the third one failed to work, I would have had to walk away from Adam completely).

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3 hours ago, FmrAdamuser said:

@NIAD - That might be true that Coleco had not thought that far ahead when they originally released the Adam, but had the Adam been successful enough to keep Coleco afloat, I am sure they would have tried to develop upgrades to keep the Adam fairly fresh prior to a second generation.  At the very least, assuming again the Adam was successful enough to generate a second generation (i.e. an "Adam2" 😆), I believe they would have had to confront that situation since, at least by then (I'm thinking around 1988-1989 timeframe is about the timeframe an Adam2 would have been brought out) there were enough inexpensive, decent quality 3rd party printers available to make the same kind of bundling that the original Adam had, less appealing to Coleco. 

 

But then, at this point, its all mental mast... er I mean gymnastics. 😉

No ADAM2 or mental gymnastics needed, as I mentioned, they already had the Universal Serial / Parallel Interface prototyped and 2 working units still exist to this day. With the eventual release of it, Serial devices including Printers and Parallel Printers would have been an option for Adam owners. It’s pretty easy figure out what Coleco would have released shortly after, a system power supply, seeing as there were already enough complaints about the power supply being included in the printer and more complaints would have flooded in by owners of the Universal Serial/Parallel Interface as most wouldn’t want to have two printers connected especially for space reasons.

 

So all the above happens (they don’t abandon the Adam in Jan. ‘85) and what would be Coleco’s next logical step? A repackaging of the Adam without the Printer included. The Daisy Wheel Printer would be redesigned / improved and sold separate but the power supply would only power the printer. That would be your so called ADAM2, not a new system but a repackaging instead.

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On 5/10/2021 at 5:15 PM, Albert said:

Probably the same person at Atari who thought it was a wonderful idea to run the power through the RF switchbox for the 5200.

 

 ..Al

I had both a Studio II and a 4-port 5200 and I thought that was pretty clever. Of course that was long before VCRs made composite jacks a thing. The 5200 controllers were so bad that even now I can deal with the power switch box, or even with taking an afternoon to mod it for composite and power jacks. (I should do that someday with the rare 4-port I found that works with the 2600 adapter, probably was a service upgrade motherboard.)

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