The Coleco Adam was a home computer and Coleco's follow-up to their successful ColecoVision video game console. Announced at Summer CES in June 1983, Coleco executives predicted sales of 500 000 by Christmas that year. Due to early production problems, only a small number of units shipped that year, preventing Coleco from meeting their sales expectations and from taking advantage of the video game market crash of 1983. From the time it was introduced to the time it was shipped, the Adam's price had also increased from US$575 to US$725.
The Adam's software library was quite large from the beginning - being derived from and compatible with the ColecoVision's software and accessories. The popular CP/M operating system was also available for the Adam.
The Adam came complete with a 64K RAM computer, Digital Data Pack cassette drive, letter-quality printer and software including the Buck Rogers video game. In comparison to its competitors, the IBM PC Jr sold for US$669 with no accessories and the Commodore 64 could be bought on its own for US$200, however, the cost of upgrading your C64 package to include the accessories that came with the Coleco Adam would have brought this price up to not much lower that the Adam's price. Note that many computers of this day relied on being connected to a television rather than a computer monitor for display.
The Adam's technology could also be bought as an add-on for the ColecoVision (The Super Game Module - Expansion Module #3). This was less expensive than the Adam computer itself and provided ColecoVision owners with an upgrade for their system.
The Adam's quality keyboard, printer and competitive sound and graphics capabilities earned the system some good reviews. Its BASIC interpreter, SmartBASIC, was largely compatible with Applesoft BASIC, thus allowing users to utilise the large number of type-in programs found in books and magazines.
The SmartBASIC interpreter came on a Digital Data Pack cassette, unlike other home computers which stored the BASIC interpreter permanently in ROM. Instead, the Adam featured a built-in word processor, SmartWriter, as well as the Elementary Operating System (EOS) OS Kernel and the 8K OS-7 ColecoVision operating system.
While the Adam had many good points about it, there were a few weaknesses to the system. Coleco had made the odd decision to store the entire system's power supply in the printer, thus making the system unusable if the printer broke down. Additionally, the Digital Data Pack cassettes, while faster and of higher capacity than normal cassettes, were unreliable. Coleco eventually shipped a 160K 5¼ inch floppy drive for the system.
Due to these problems and the lack of initial sales due to less-than-expected shipments of the system, the Adam nearly drove Coleco to bankruptcy, making them drop the system in 1985.
Platforms: Coleco Adam, Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M).