Adam Colecovision Family Computer System

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The Coleco Adam is a home computer released in 1983 by American toy manufacturer Coleco. It was an attempt to follow on the success of the company's ColecoVision video game console. The Adam was not very successful, partly because of early production problems

Coleco announced the Adam in June 1983 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and executives predicted sales of 500,000 by Christmas 1983. From the time of the computer's introduction to the time of its shipment, the price increased, from USD $525 to $725.

The Adam is famous for an incident connected with its showing at the June, 1983 CES. To showcase the machine, Coleco decided to demonstrate a port of its ColecoVision conversion of Donkey Kong on the system. Nintendo was in the midst of negotiating a deal with Atari to license its Famicom for distribution outside of Japan, and the final signing would have been done at CES. Atari had exclusive rights to Donkey Kong for home computers (as Coleco had for game consoles), and when Atari saw that Coleco was showing Donkey Kong on a computer, its proposed deal with Nintendo was delayed. Coleco had to agree not to sell the Adam version of Donkey Kong. Ultimately, it had no bearing on the Atari/Nintendo deal, as Atari's CEO Ray Kassar was fired the next month and the proposal went nowhere, with Nintendo deciding to market its system on its own.

the Adam had a large software library from the start. It was derived from and compatible with the ColecoVision's software and accessories, and, in addition, the popular CP/M operating system was available as an option. Its price gave a complete system: an 80 kB RAM computer, tape drive, letter-quality printer, and software including the Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom video game. The IBM PCjr sold for $669 but included no peripherals, and although the popular Commodore 64 sold for around $200, its price was not much lower after the purchase of a printer, tape or disk drive, and software.

Like many home computers of its day, the Adam was intended to use a television set for its display. The SmartWriter electronic typewriter loaded when the system was turned on. In this mode, the system operated just like a typewriter, printing letters as soon as the user typed them. Pressing the Escape/WP key put SmartWriter into word processor mode, which functioned similarly to a modern word processor.

A less expensive version of the Adam plugged into a ColecoVision, which delivered on one of ColecoVision's launch commitments that owners would one day be able to upgrade their game system to a fully featured computer system.


The Coleco Adam, in word processing mode.
CPU: Zilog Z80[7] @ 3.58 MHz
Support processors: three Motorola 6801s @ 1 MHz (memory & I/O, tape, and keyboard control)
Memory: 80 kB RAM, 16 kB video RAM; 32 kB ROM
Expansion: 3 internal slots, 1 cartridge slot, and a 62.5 kbit/s half-duplex serial bus called AdamNet. The stand-alone also has an external expansion port of the same type as the ColecoVision expansion port, on the right hand side.
Secondary storage: Digital Data Pack tape cassette, 256 kB
Graphics: Texas Instruments TMS9928A (a close relative of the TMS9918 in the TI-99/4A)
256 192 resolution
32 sprites
Sound: Texas Instruments SN76489AN
3 voices
white noise

Our machine is complete with the Coleco SmartWriter Printer and the Colecovision Gamws Console


Manufacturer: Adam Coleco
Date: 1983

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH23791. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Adam Colecovision Family Computer System

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