Coleco began its life as a company in 1932 (founded by Maurice Greenberg). They were still the Connecticut Leather Company back then, and their product line first consisted of simple leather supplies that they sold to shoemakers. This would have been all that Coleco ever did if it was not for the ingenuity of the founder's son. Leonard Greenberg designed a leather cutting machine that worked fairly well, and soon the company was doing a great business selling leather craft kits for children. Leonard next designed a plastic forming machine, and the company used that to start a second business making plastic wading pools. By the early 60s the wading pool business had overtaken the leather business, so they sold the leather part of the company and greatly expanded the swimming pool part of the company. Soon Coleco was the largest swimming pool manufacturer in the world.
But that wasn't enough for Coleco, so they began to branch out into other areas. They made toys and games which sold fairly well. But they also attempted a motorized division to sell snowmobiles and dirt bikes, and that was a big mistake that cost them millions of dollars.
They didn't break into the video game business until 1975 when they released their Telstar home Pong console. These did fairly well, and made the company profitable once again. They designed a whole line of Telstar products that were supposed to ship in time for the Christmas of 1977, but problems with suppliers and labor caused them to miss Christmas. That wouldn't have been the end of the world, except that Atari managed to ship their Atari 2600 console in time for the Christmas season that year. Coleco finally shipped the new Telstar games in 1978, but by then the 2600 was already firmly entrenched as the market leader and Coleco's units simply could not compete with a cartridge based system. They went on to post losses of 22 million dollars that year.
Coleco made their first comeback in 1982 when they released their ColecoVision console, which was superior to anything the competition had to offer. Not only did they ship a superior product, they decided to ship a superior game with it as well. They secured the Donkey Kong license from Nintendo and shipped that title with the system, this simply beat the pants off of Atari's pack-in game, which was Combat. In a shrewd business decision Coleco also decided to sell the Donkey Kong cartridge for the 2600, and they made that version terrible, which of course made the ColecoVision look even better to consumers. They soon released an add-on module that allowed the ColecoVision to play titles designed for the Atari 2600, but the videogame crash of 1983 had already begun, and things began to fall apart shortly after that first add-on was shipped. Their next big thing was supposed to be the "ADAM" computer, but once again they missed Christmas (1983 this time), and posted huge losses because competitors managed to get their products to market first. They ended up losing nearly 80 million dollars on the ADAM.
They decided to concentrate on toys again, due to the declining video game market, and by 1985 they were already on top again, this time with the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. But once again Coleco tried to ride a trend out a little too long, and by 1988 they were bankrupt. In 1989 Hasbro took control of the rest of their assets, and Coleco was no more.
Coleco Video Game Titles
Currently all their titles for the ColecoVision are listed in that node, but they also produced a few games for the Atari 2600 as well. These titles were mostly arcade licenses from Nintendo and Sega, along with a couple of truly terrible Smurf based games.