Everyone has at least half an idea of how I feel about Coleco (That is, if you already read about Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600). Well, of course, Coleco made the Colecovision, which was a pretty good video game system, I must admit. At the time, it blew everything away. It had the better graphics, sound, and gameplay than the Atari 2600 (DUH!), the Intellivision, and the Atari 5200. Coleco also brought a new idea to the table: the Colecovision Expansion Module.
Now, this was pretty cool. The first expansion module was the Atari 2600 converter. This allowed you to play Atari 2600 cartridges on your Colecovision. Of course, that led to a lawsuit. Does anyone remember the case of Incompetent vs. Braindead? Anyway, Coleco decided that they wanted to enter the computer market. What better way to do this than introduce a computer expansion module? Not even Coleco could screw this up. Wait, did I say Coleco couldn’t screw something up?
Coleco offered two types of systems. The add-on-to-Colecovision-system, and then a stand-alone model. Here is a picture of the stand-alone model:
Pretty spiffy, eh? The system did have some nice features. And I must admit that this was my first computer system. I am to this day still partial to it because it is the system on which I first learned to program (I am a computer programmer by trade). But that doesn’t mean that the system is perfect. Far from it. Actually it was really crappy.
First of all, it wasn’t even sold with a disk drive, like most other popular computers at the time. It was sold with “High Speed Data Cassettes”. According to their documentation, these data cassettes performed at speeds rivaling those of a disk drive. BULLCRAP!! Well, at least they used ordinary cassettes, and I don’t have to buy anything expensive..right? WRONG! You had to use Coleco’s specially preformatted cassettes that cost about $10 a piece. You know what they were? Regular tapes with two holes drilled in the back so that they would fit into the tape drive. That’s right – Coleco put to pegs in the tape drive that stick out far enough so that a normal tape wouldn’t fit there.
However, data storage is the least of your concerns. The Adam’s lack of pride and joy lied in its wonderful printer. It was extremely revolutionary. It was a 24-pin, dot matrix, color option….wait a second…I’m sorry…it was a FREAKIN’ DAISY WHEEL PRINTER!!! This stupid thing was so loud that it makes Roseanne Barr’s Nation Anthem rendition sound pleasing to the ear. And worse than that, the paper was single sheet feed…with no automatic page feeder. That means that you can print one page at a time, and that was it. The Adam printer was also the source for the power supply. Who has ever heard of something so retarded? The printer is the source of the computer’s power?!?!?! My parents would always know when I was getting on the computer (especially when I wasn’t supposed to be) because I turned in on and WHEEEEERRRRRRRRKKKK-ZOOOOM-ZOOOOOM-SPLEEEEEEEK!!!!!! It was loud and obnoxious just trying to warm up. And there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it.
All of these factors combined would be enough to induct the Adam into the Hall of Shame. But the best is still to come. Adam wanted an advanced word processor to go with their new computer. They decided that it would be best to embed the program into the ROM BIOS, meaning that the computer would automatically boot up into the word processor (instead of an operating system, BASIC, or anything in which a normal computer would start). Unfortunately, as word processors go, they are riddled with bugs, especially the first few versions of the program. This is due to the complexity of these type programs. This is not something you normally want fixed into a computers firmware.
Guess what? The Adam’s word processor had bugs. And plenty of them. Once the bugs were found, the value of the Adam dropped tremendously due to the lack of consumer interest in a buggy computer. That’s exactly why my dad decided to buy one – They were practically giving them away. So, the Adam definitely introduced me to the computer world – Which is enough induct anyone into the Hall of Shame. But the Adam deserves to be in the Hall of Shame because of all the crap that I just listed.
Don’t Worry…I’m sure this isn’t the last time we see Coleco in the Hall of Shame. Stay Tuned.
Coleco Colecovision Adam Computer/Game System with Accessories
First Book of Adam: An Introduction to Using and Programming the Coleco Adam
VINTAGE Retro Coleco ADAM Family Computer System Module – Made in 1983 – Untested – Coleco Vision Gaming System (NOT INCLUDED) – NOT RETURNABLE
Home applications and games for the Coleco ADAM