Coleco was one of the first video game manufacturers to promise a high-tech add-on and actually release it. The result, ADAM, was larger than the game system itself! It came complete with digital tape drive, text-only printer, and keyboard. Even better, ADAM was buyable as a stand-alone unit, for people without Colecovisions. FYI : The unit was called "Adam" because Coleco hoped it would take a "bite" out of Apple (computers). Oh well; it was a cute idea...
One of many controversies for the unit was its choice of data storage device; a high speed tape drive. It's important to note that at the time, affordable data storage options were few. Software on an affordable computer was either on low-density 5 1/4" disks (which held ridiculously little) or audio tape (which could hold much more, though was as slow as molasses to load). Coleco's choice of high speed tape drive was similar to backup tape drives used today. This allowed for great amounts of data storage per tape, although the wait time was quite tedious. As amusing as the concept was, people wanted a disk drive...
This affected gaming as well. With all of the rewinding and fast-forwarding of the tape cassette, wearing down of the tape was inevitable. Some data tapes took twice as long to load a game after a while, which I can only assume was the computer trying to re-load a game after a failure to load the first time. Flaws with the drive were becoming more and more obvious, and enhanced the cry for an actual disk drive even more. While the system did finally receive such a disk drive, it was released a short time before ADAM's production was halted; too little, too late?
On the other hand, games for the system were nice (when they finally loaded). Their depiction of the Laserdisc arcade classic, Dragon's Lair (label shown at left) was in some ways more entertaining than the original. Zaxxon was a fantastic translation of the classic arcade title, including levels I'd never seen. Movie-turned-videogame titles consisted of Buck Rogers and 2010, whose games were unique, at least. The latter was even a text-only adventure, in the spirit of popular Infocom computer games at the time...
In due time, Coleco made the Adam a competitor for the mature PC market, with programming languages like Basic, LOGO, and "ADAMCalc." ADAMLink, Adam's answer to a modem, allowed a phone line connection. Educational software included a program to make Flash Cards. Each of these products were quite versatile: ADAM's Basic was made as Apple- compatible as possible, so quite a few amateur programs in Apple programming books were compatible with ADAM. In time, ADAM even had its own (however hard to find) programming book.
Unfortunately, Adam suffered the same fate as Colecovision itself; the video game "crash" was in force, and Coleco pulled the plug to concentrate on the fad of Cabbage Patch Dolls. In the case of the ADAM computer, however, I think Coleco was equally concerned with Apple's premiere offering of a little unit called the Macintosh. It's still a shame we couldn't have seen what would become of the ADAM if given a few more years of growth; by the time of its demise, it truly was starting to resemble a real computer, complete with printer, modem, disk drive, and many decent programs. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be.
"It's still a shame we couldn't have seen what would become of the ADAM if given a few more years of growth; by the time of its demise, it truly was starting to resemble a real computer, complete with printer, modem, disk drive, and many decent programs. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be."