Coleco Adam High Speed Digital Data Pack (1983 – 1985)

The Coleco Adam was a home computer introduced by Coleco in 1983. It was available as a standalone computer, or could be bought as an expansion pack for the ColecoVision game console.

Like other home computers of the time, the Coleco Adam used a tape drive as one means to store programs and data, but this was not a standard Compact Cassette drive. The dual ‘Adam High Speed Digital Data Pack’ tape drives used a slightly modified type of Compact Cassette that ran at much higher speed than usual, had a different configuration of holes in the shell, and used thicker tape. These could store 256 KB, and ran at 20 inches per second (ips) when reading/writing and and 80 ips when rewinding. Blank Digital Data Packs  were supplied pre-formatted and could not be formatted by the user.

As well as the Digital Data Pack drives, the Adam had a ROM cartridge slot that accepted all ColecoVision cartridges as well as its own (it could play ColecoVision games even as a standalone computer). Later in production, a 5.25-inch disk drive was made available as an accessory.

The Coleco Adam had other unusual features such as a dedicated daisywheel printer (that also contained the power supply), built-in word-processing software, and the CP/M operating system as an option.

Unfortunately, delays in its introduction, and build quality issues led to it being discontinued in 1985. One particular problem was that tapes left in the drives or near the machine when it was turned on could suffer data loss.

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ColecoVision (1982 – 1985)

The ColecoVision was Coleco Industries’ second generation home video game console, and  was released in 1982. It offered near-arcade-quality graphics and gaming style along with the means to expand the system’s basic hardware.

Approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984. In addition, Expansion Module #1 made the ColecoVision compatible with Atari 2600 cartridges, giving the ColecoVision the largest software library of any console of its day.

All first-party cartridges and most third-party software titles feature a 12-second pause before presenting the game select screen. This delay results from an intentional loop in the console’s BIOS to enable on-screen display of the ColecoVision brand. Companies like Parker Brothers, Activision, and Micro Fun bypassed this loop, which necessitated embedding portions of the BIOS outside the delay loop, further reducing storage available to actual game programming.

Coleco licensed Nintendo’s Donkey Kong as the official bundled cartridge for all ColecoVision consoles, helping to boost the console’s popularity. By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold more than 500,000 units. The ColecoVision’s main competitor was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200.

As a result of the video game crash of 1983, by the beginning of 1984, quarterly sales of the ColecoVision had dramatically decreased and over the next 18 months, the Coleco company ramped down its video game division, discontinuing the ColecoVision in late 1985.

The Nintendo Entertainment System’s design and technology was influenced by the ColecoVision. The two are very similar in specifications and hardware features such as tile-based sprites.

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Coleco Telstar Arcade (1977 – 1978)

The Coleco Telstar Arcade was the last in a line of Pong clones branded as ‘Telstar’ and produced by Coleco between 1976 and 1978. Unlike the other Telstar consoles, the Telstar Arcade used triangular cartridges to allow it to play a range of different games in colour.

The design of the Arcade console itself was also triangular and uniquely it had three different types of playing interface – steering wheel, light gun and normal ‘pong’ type controls.

The cartridges were generally silver, connected horizontally to the top of the console, and contained a microprocessor and a small amount of ROM. Four different cartridges were produced, number 1 being sold with the system.

Sources / Resources

Entry in Wikipedia for Telstar consoles

Entry in Pong Story for Telstar Arcade