Coleco Adam
Introduced:June 1983
Released:October 1983
Discontinued:January 1985
Price:US $600
CPU:Zilog Z80-A @ 3.58MHz
RAM:80K, 64K available to user
Display:TV (RF) & composite video
36 X 24 text, 16 colors
256 X 192 graphics
Ports:cartridge, video, AdamNet
Expansion:3 internal expansion slots
Peripherals:Daisy-wheel printer (required)
Storage:1 or 2 internal cassette drives
External floppy drive available
OS:BASIC, loaded from cassette

Ah, finally, "The first, complete, single-package family computer that includes all necessary hardware and software", at least in Coleco's eyes.

Released in October 1983, the Adam was available in two versions, as an add-on to the very popular ColecoVision game system, or as a stand-alone home computer system, as seen above.

At $600, the Adam was a great deal, including a letter-quality printer, high speed built-in storage, and 64K of user RAM.

Data storage is via built-in cassette drives. Ordinary audio cassettes cannot be used, they are not of sufficient quality to reliably store computer data.

Coleco sold high quality tapes specifically made for the Adam, capable of withstanding the high-speed 20 ips (inches per second) read/write and 80 ips rewind speeds.

SmartBASIC is one of many applications and games available on "Adam High Speed Digital Data Pack".

The Adam also has a cartridge slot on top to accept and play all ColecoVision game cartridges.

Although the Adam has a high-speed serial bus specifically for Adam peripherals, it has no standard serial or parallel ports for printers, modems, and other standard peripherals.

The included daisy-wheel printer is very noisy and slow, printing about 10 characters per second, but it has much better print quality than any dot-matrix printer, a cheaper and more common printer of the 1980's.

The daisy-wheel printer has a spinning disk, or daisy-wheel, with all of the printable characters on the outer edge. If the printer is told to print the letter "a", it spins the daisy-wheel until the character "a" is at the top, then hits it with a striker, imprinting the "a" on the paper, similar to a typewriter.

The printer continues to spin and strike the daisy-wheel until all the appropriate text has been printed. The printer has to know where all of the characters are located on the daisy-wheel, otherwise it wouldn't know when to strike it. Because of this, it is probably best to use a daisy-wheel supplied by Coleco, although many other daisy-wheels have nearly the same character layout for standardization.

Here is an example of the Adam daisy-wheel print quality:

The printer is connected to the Adam console via the AdamNet, a 62.5K bps, half-duplex, shared serial bus. Can you run the Adam without the printer? No - the printer contains the power supply for the entire system, so it must always be hooked-up and turned on.

After the Adam was released in October 1983, Coleco had to cease distribution of the Adam and fix the printer, which was having reliability problems. Because of this, Coleco missed the 1983 Christmas buying season, a major disappointement and loss of revenue.

By the time they got the Adam fixed and were shipping again, people believed that it was an unreliable system, and shyed away from it.

Coleco stopped shipping systems in January 1985, after only one year.

Some of the Adam's interesting features:
  • There is no operating system built-in, just a word processor. You can load the SmartBASIC programming language (included) from cassette tape.
  • One or two built-in digital cassette drives transfer data at 19.2K baud, storing 256K bytes of data per tape.
  • The letter-quality Adam daisy-wheel printer is required, as it contains the power supply for the rest of the system.
  • The Adam is compatible with all ColecoVision game cartridges.
  • Keep the Data Packs (cassettes) away from the printer! And turning the Adam on/off with a Data Pack in the drive may cause data loss!

    In September 1983, Popular Science magazine published an article about the Adam computer, having just been previewed at the 1983 Chicago CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

    The funniest thing about the Adam computer is the single box which everything came in - it's giant! 10 X 20 X 40 inches and 35 pounds. Basketball not included.

    Related Links

  • Coleco Adam Technical Manual
  • Adam from PC Museum

  • History of Coleco

    • 1932: - Coleco (COnneticut LEather COmpany) Industries is founded as a leather products company.
    • 1960: - Coleco is the world's largest manufacturer of above-ground swimming pools.
    • 1976: - Coleco released the Telstar Arcade.
    • 1982: June - Coleco announces the ColecoVision video game system.
    • 1983: June - Coleco announces the Coleco Adam, at the Summer CES.
    • 1983: October - Coleco begins shipping the Adam. System problems caused them to stop shipping until 1984.
    • 1985: January - Coleco sells off its Adam inventory and leaves the computer business.
    • 1988: - Coleco files for bankruptcy.
    • 1989: - Coleco is bought-out by Hasbro.

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