Coleco's expansion module for the ColecoVision that was a full blown computer. Consisted of a daisy wheel printer, desktop form computer and detachable keyboard. Used high speed tape drives. Power supply was in the printer, so if the printer was out for repairs, you couldn't use the computer. If you had a tape in the drive when you powered on the machine, the tape would get erased. Cool looking piece of shit.

Ok, maybe some real information might be in order here.

The Coleco ADAM was a Z80 based machine with 64k of memory and 32k of ROM, which contained a built-in word processing program. As described above, the basic package consisted of the CPU unit, a printer and a detachable keyboard.

The keyboard was a typical full-stroke QWERTY style keyboard with 75 keys and 6 programmable function keys. While there was no numeric keypad, the unit did come with plastic clips for attaching a ColecoVision game controller (which had a telephone style keypad) to the side of the keyboard. The function keys ran along the top of the keyboard, and were labeled I/II/III/IV/V/VI. The keyboard was connected to the CPU unit via a coiled telephone-type cord.

The printer was a rather ordinary daisy wheel device. However, the printer also housed the power supply for the ADAM. Since the connection between the printer and the CPU unit was via a proprietary AdamNET connection, if the printer was out for service, you not only couldn't connect a standard printer to the ADAM, but you also had no way of powering the CPU due to the non-standard power interface. With time, alternative power supplies were made available and so were alternative means of connecting different printers.

CPU Unit
The main unit of the ADAM came in two forms: a standalone unit, or as "Expansion Module #3" which connected to a ColecoVision through the Expansion Port. The only real difference between the two, besides a slight variation in size, was that the standalone contained the additional ColecoVision circuitry (video, game support) and also featured a cartridge slot for ColecoVision games. The expansion module version relied on the ColecoVision to supply video and game cartridge support.

The front left of the unit featured two spaces for where the high speed digital tape devices could be installed. One of these drives came with every ADAM, and was the main mass storage medium for the computer. The digital tape drive used reel-to-reel magnetic tapes which held 256k of storage. The tapes were physically identical to standard audio cassettes, however, there was an additional notch in the casing to prevent standard audio tapes from being used. When the drives were in use, speed varied based on operation (read/write/seek) and direction was not limited to only going forward. The whole width of the tape was used by the drive (or "all four tracks" in audio cassette terms), so flipping the cassette was not possible.

Behind the tape drives was a removable top panel which revealed an expansion bay containing 3 slots. The slots were of varying sizes, and the only way to connect a card to the outside world was to run a wire through the tiny vents in the panel. For example, the ADAM 300 baud modem had a tiny wire with a jumper-like connection on the end that would fit through a vent to connect to the modem.

Some of the items available for the ADAM:

  • ADAMlink direct connect modem: 300 baud, pulse dialing, no speaker. The device was basically a cartridge that plugged into the right-most slot in the expansion bay. It connected to the phone line by a thin wire that fit through the vent and connected to two small pins. The terminal program that was included was nothing special by late 80's standards (no VT-100, Zmodem, etc).
  • 5.25" floppy drive: 160k, single sided. This was an external device.
  • ADAM 64k Memory Expander: Adds 64k to the ADAM's installed 64k of memory.
  • Second Digital Data Drive: Additional tape drive.

Apparently there were also devices to get rid of the ADAM printer; be able to power your ADAM without the bulky printer, or use a different printer altogether!

Production Run
Introduced in June 1983, the price was initially around $700 USD. By the end of production in 1985, the cost had been reduced to around $300 USD.

Technical Information

  • CPU: 3.58MHz Z-80A
  • RAM: 64k (expandable to 128k)
  • ROM: 8k
  • VRAM: 16k
  • Graphics processor: Texas Instruments TMS9928A
  • Sprites: 32
  • Text modes: 36x24, 40x24
  • Graphics modes: 256x192x16
  • Sound capabilities: Texas Instruments SN76489AN; 3 tone channels, 1 noise

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