The Coleco Adam was Coleco's attempt to break into the home computer market. Launched in 1983, production was later halted due to problems with the printer, causing the machine to miss the Christmas season. By the time It returned to market, it was too far behind the competition, and had earned the reputation as an unreliable machine. Production was stopped in 1985 after the machine had been on the market for only a little over a year.
The Adam is an interesting and capable machine. It does not have an operating system in ROM, however it does have a built-in word processor, which is the mode in which the system starts. This, along with the inclusion of a high quality daisy wheel printer would seem to indicate a business/productivity focus in the design. The system is also designed to be a capable game system, and in fact runs standard ColecoVision cartridge games. Perhaps this is why Coleco marketed the machine as a "Family Computer" - something for everyone.
The system consists of three main components, the keyboard, the printer, and the actual computer (CPU, Memory, Storage) which Coleco called the "Memory Unit". Data storage was via one or two digital tape drives, each storing 250k bytes of data. Although the tapes looked like standard cassettes, they were not, and only preformatted tapes from Coleco could be used. An interesting fact about the Adam was that the printer was a REQUIRED component in the system... The power supply for the entire system was built into the printer.
Three Coleco Adams were donated by David Miller.
Click any photo to view a large high-resolution image.
The first version of the Adam was actually "Expansion module 3" for the Colecovision game system. The Adam unit includes a tray and connector which accepts the original game system to form one complete computer system. Inside the unit we see the expansion slots, and room for another tape drive.
The stand-alone "Coleco Adam" Family computer system - just add your own TV.\ The stand-alone Adam was also a completely functional Colecovision game console (note the slot at the upper right), and you would often find this Adam with game paddles as well.
Closeup of the "memory unit" and keyboard. Note that this keyboard is missing the space bar as well as a key in the center of the arrow cluster. (June 2004 - a complete keyboard has been obtained - photos will be updated as time permits)
Rear view of printer and "memory unit".
The Coleco Adam "Smartwriter" printer - this daisy wheel printer was of high quality, however it was slow and noisy. It could not be easly replaced or substituted because the printer power supply ran the entire computer system.
The Adam manuals.
Software was delivered on cassette tape. For storing your own data, you had to purchase preformatted blank tapes, because the Adam did not have the capability to format and use a standard audio cassette.