Absolutely Everything About The Coleco Adam, 8-bit Home Computer

[Thom Cherryhomes] shared with us an incredible resource for anyone curious about the Coleco Adam, one of the big might-have-been home computers of the 80s. There’s a monstrous 4-hour deep dive video (see the video description for a comprehensive chapter index) that makes a fantastic reference for anyone wanting to see the Coleco Adam and all of its features in action, in the context of 8-bit home computing in the 80s.

[Image by Akbkuku, CC BY 4.0]
The Adam aimed to be an all-in-one computer package, targeting a family audience for both education and gaming purposes, with a price target around $600, a pretty compelling pitch.

The video is a serious in-depth look at the Adam, providing practical demonstrations of everything in various scenarios. This includes showcasing commercials from the period, detailing the system’s specs and history, explaining the Adam’s appeal, discussing specific features, comparing advertisement promises to real costs, and giving a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the system. All of the talk notes are available as well, providing a great companion to the chapter index.

Manufactured by the same Coleco responsible for the ColecoVision gaming console, the Adam had great specs, a great price, and a compelling array of features. Sadly, it was let down badly at launch and Coleco never recovered. However, the Adam remains of interest in the retrocomputing scene and we’ve even seen more than one effort to convert the Adam’s keyboard to USB.

20 thoughts on “Absolutely Everything About The Coleco Adam, 8-bit Home Computer

    1. True but It also came with a daisy wheel printer included, and its compatible with an already-existing library of games for the ColecoVision.

      in fact if you had a ColecoVision you could transform it into an Adam with the “Expansion Module #3”

  1. We had an Adam (dual cassette drive with the printer) when I was young(-er). I pressured my parents relentlessly for it. The Applesoft Basic compatibility and ability to play Colecovision games made it a no-brainer for me. Luckily, that particular one never had any of the numerous failures that were too common. I loved it.

  2. I remember my dad buying me one when they first came out. It was DOA and we took it back and they were on raincheck. We then got the expansion #3 to turn our Colecovision into an ADAM. It was my first computer at the age of 10 and still have it in the box. They went out of business right after buying an external 5-1/4″ floppy drive for it. I added a 300 baud modern and could only call a BBS that was in Florida and wasn’t aware of how much long distance phone call cost. It was cheaper to get a PC-AT 12 MHz at the time. Still have that one too. Good times!!

  3. “great specs, great price” – well, the specs were ok, but the sound and gfx were equal to MSXes and TI-99, the main difference was the printer, and in combination with a printer the price was ok, but the price wasn’t that “great” if you didn’t need a printer.

  4. I bought mine for the printer (which was compatible with many on-the-shelf daisy wheels for plenty of font choices) and used the optional modem to talk to AOL using a home-made BASIC terminal program with assembly language download routine (running under their CP/M). The tape drives were awesome for Philips cassettes (fully automated), but I did buy the 160kB disk drive (at ToysRUs!). I had to butcher the video output as the designers didn’t know about EIA170A coupling time constant specs, but then it worked fine with my Proton 19″ monitor (by cracky).
    I will note that my ‘expansion board’ had countless tacks applied from the store due to insane overetching of the PCB.
    I ended up interviewing with the designers (at a Chicago area consulting company; Coleco didn’t develop it) and after detailing their techincal errors, they offered me a job.

        1. So did you meet Keith Kelly?

          He was one of the HW engineers that worked on it. I worked with him at IBM in the early 90’s, and he told me about some of the challenges in its design and impl. all this sounds familiar.

  5. My Dad had one in the ’80s. I helped him set it up and get it working. He eventually took it to work and used it to produce documents for the State of Illinois. When he retired he brought it home and it eventually was placed into a wall in the basement inside a sealed plastic bag. The new home owners have never been told of it’s existence.

  6. I still have one working one that I bought new back in the eighty’s. Why I kept it? Because it cool to see it working again. It was by first computer I learned how to program and get introduced to cpm.

  7. The attraction was a word processor with a ‘letter-quality’ daisy wheel printer, i.e. the same quality as a typewriter (remember almost everything was crappy dot matrix at this point). And a computer that could be used for games and programming, almost thrown in for free. Seriously considered one of these at the time, though there just wasn’t much software available.

  8. The expansion module for the ColecoVision was the one I got for Christmas 1983 when I was 13. My parents asked me if I wanted goalie equipment for hockey or this computer and it was a no brainer to get this computer. It was my first computer and I loved it. Later on I got the 300 baud modem for connecting to BBS’s that were run by other teens and I remember half the time they wouldn’t be up and I would get a mom answering the phone yelling to not call again. I also got the disk drive later as well. Its a great memory of getting into computers. Later went on to C64 and Amigas and then PC’s around when the 486 processors came out.

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