[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.
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.
The Colecovision console from the early 1980s is probably not the most memorable platform of its era, but it retains a retrocomputing following to this day. The original hardware can be a bit pricey in 2023, so [nanochess] has built one of his own on a breadboard. It’s fully functional from original Colecovision cartridges, and we see it in the video below the break running Frogger.
Behind the mess of wires is a surprisingly simple circuit with only a few logic chips beyond the Z80 processor, the various memory and EPROM chips, and the video and sound chips. We’re told the complexity is considerably reduced by the use of a Texas Instruments TMS9118 video controller instead of a 9918.
Had we been building it we would probably have taken the less brave step of using color coded wires for the various signals, because we remember the fun and games associated with wiring old-style 8-bit computers by hand only too well. But we have to admit that it reminds us of a lost youth working out Z80 address decoder schematics, so it’s very pleasing to see one built today.
Few things are more satisfying than finding an old, forgotten piece of technology somewhere and bringing it back to life. And while it’s great to see a rare sports car or an Apollo Flight Computer being restored, even not-very-successful game consoles from the 1980s can make for some great repair stories. Just look at how [Discreet Mayor] describes his restoration and modification efforts on a ColecoVision that he literally found in a barn.
Given that the ColecoVision was on the market between 1982 and 1985, we can assume that [Discreet Mayor]’s console had been sitting on a shelf for at least three decades, and the machine was definitely showing its age. Several components had failed due to corrosion, including the clock crystal, a 7400 series logic chip and a capacitor in the power supply, but since these are all standard components it was rather straightforward to replace them.
The controllers however were sadly beyond repair. Replacing them with standard joysticks wasn’t really an option because the ColecoVision controllers included a numeric keypad, which was mainly used to select game options. Making something completely new was the way to go, and [Discreet Mayor] decided to go for a wireless system while he was at it. After all, he had already developed a modular wireless IoT system based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, which turned out to be a perfect fit for this system.
[Discreet Mayor] built a simple joystick-plus-fire-button setup on a piece of MDF and equipped it with his IoT transmitter. Instead of adding a replacement numeric keypad he decided to use the joystick to simulate the most commonly-used buttons: “right” for “1”, “down” for “2” and so on. The receiver module uses digital switches to mimic keypresses to the console’s input port. The end result might look a bit hacky, but the console is fully functional again and runs its games just like it did over thirty years ago.
[Leaded Solder] found some ColecoVision game cartridges at a flea market, and like most of us would, thought, “I’ll build a ColecoVision console from scratch to play them!” Well, maybe most of us would think of that, but not actually do it. He did and you can read about the results in great detail since he wrote up two posts, one covering the design and one covering the construction.
The ColecoVision was a game console that famously could be expanded into a nice — for its day — personal computer. It even had a daisy wheel printer in that configuration. However, in either configuration, the game console was the brains of the operation. According to [Leaded Solder] the price of a unit in working order is high even though over 2 million were made because of several design problems that make them less likely to survive the decades. Rather than repair and modify an original unit, it was cheaper and much more educational to build new.
If you were a child of the late 1970s or early 1980s, the chances are that your number one desire was to own a games console. The one to have was the Atari 2600, notwithstanding that dreadful E.T. game.
Of course, there were other consoles during that era. One of these also-ran products came from Coleco, a company that had started in the leather business but by the mid 1970s had diversified into handheld single-game consoles. Their ColecoVision console of 1982 sold well initially, but suffered badly in the video game crash of 1983. By 1985 it was gone, and though Coleco went on to have further success, by the end of the decade they too had faded away.
The Coleco story was not over though, because in 2005 the brand was relaunched by a successor company. Initially it appeared on an all-in-one retro console, and then on an abortive attempt to crowdfund a new console, the Coleco Chameleon. This campaign came to a halt after the Chameleon prototypes were shown to be not quite what they seemed by eagle-eyed onlookers. Continue reading “Coleco In Spat With ColecoVision Community”→
The Colecovision was a state-of-the-art game console back in 1983. Based around the Z-80, it was almost a personal computer (and, with the Adam add-on, it could serve that function, complete with a daisy wheel printer for output). [Kernelcrash] set out to recreate the Colecovision on a breadboard and kept notes of the process.
His earlier project was building a Funvision (a rebranded VTech Creativision) on a breadboard, so he started with the parts he had from that project. He did make some design changes (for example, generating separate clocks instead of using the original design’s method for producing the different frequencies needed).