Discovered: Coleco Adam

So in Ontario Canada, we have a Recycling Program where local businesses who support the program serve as a drop off point where you can discard your used electronics and have them transferred free of charge to proper recycling centers. Now at a local store, I was handy when THIS was brought in.

A Coleco Adam Home Computer System.

For those who don’t understand why I got all twitchy and had to capture a gallery of photos, this gem was in the wave of the earliest home computer systems available. The Adam was a pile of hardware that connected to your existing Colecovision Home Gaming Console making it a word processing super machine!

While it was far from being as powerful as my iPhone is today, back in 1983 it was a big deal! I owned both a VIC-20 and an Atari 800, and learned to write programs in Basic, which was saved onto a tape drive using everyday audio cassettes (we were still listening to music on vinyl back then). Trying to compete with the dominance of the Commodore and Atari home systems, the box had a brazen claim of a six month warrantee which DOUBLED those offered by either of the others.

But that wasn’t all this power-up system had to offer. Unlike today’s piecemeal collections of peripherals, Adam came with its own Daisy Wheel Printer. It bragged a total of 80k of RAM (cheating by today’s standards by adding in the console’s video card memory with the addon processor’s accompanying memory). It also boasted its built-in tape drive and had patented Data Packs that gloated over their ability to hold 250 pages of double spaced text!

And ease of use is a big seller in a home computer, so this handy user guide (pictured below) was included with staggering production quality inside. Coleco eventually blamed these manuals which “did not offer the first-time user adequate assistance” alongside a long list of technical errors that resulted in many of the ADAMs being returned.

Interestingly enough, it was the utter failure of the Coleco Adam that tanked Coleco. Coleco manufactured and distributed one of the most popular toys of the 80s – The Cabbage Patch Kids – but this didn’t save them from bankruptcy in 1988.

To this day there are Adam Enthusiasts that gather every year at AdamCon, held in different host cities. This year’s convention will be in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (the city so nice they named it deux fois).

6 Responses to Discovered: Coleco Adam

  1. To make this even more retro, I was listening the the Tron soundtrack when I came across this article, great find btw!

  2. As a teenager I was saddled with the job of selling these boat anchors as a part time job. It was my first experience in dealing with a flood of angry customers demanding a refund. The daisy wheel printer was hard-wired to the computer by a two foot cable and served as the power source. Whenever the printer spiked (which was often) it would reboot the entire machine. It had the balls to boast the "fastest" tape drive at the time when disk drives were becoming the new common denominator. Even then I remember thinking "that's like boasting you have the fastest Steam Engine."

  3. This was my family's first computer! I remember as a kid playing Buck Rogers and Donkey Kong on it over and over again. The best part was watching the cassette tapes spin over and over while trying to load the programs. Also, I thought I should mention that it didn't have a monitor, you had to hook it up to your television.

  4. Appropriate words to use would have been WARRANTY or GUARANTEE.
    Your retarded hybridisation “warrantee” does not mean what you think it means. What’s the matter with you?

  5. They named it "deux fois" because Québec city is in Québec province, same as New York city is in New York. But you already know that… however your readers should know it aswell ;)

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