From the lab: Tractor Feed accessory

Coleco ADAM tractor accessory

Coleco ADAM tractor feed accessory

I said it before and I’ll say it again…  I love getting my hands on prototypes and mockups.  So when my friend, Howard Eglowstein, showed me these photos, I fell out of my seat.  Being that Howard is a former Coleco employee, having access to this stuff is probably trivial, but for a fan of vintage computing, this is priceless.

As a kid, I wanted to be able to print out pictures, but the ADAM SmartWriter printer used a daisy wheel, which means it can only print text.  The next best thing would have been a tractor feed printer which would allow of continuous print jobs without the need of placing a new sheet of paper in the printer for every page printed.  This would also allow for banners and with some creativity, you could print out some big messages like, “HELLO WORLD!

Hmm, I printed a lot of documents as a kid; would have been nice not to have to wait by the printer to feed a new sheet of paper every minute or so.


6 thoughts on “From the lab: Tractor Feed accessory

  1. Another great offering… thank you, Justin and Howard, so very much for sharing all these great pics and info!

    BTW, I did have success using tractor feed paper on the ADAM Printer, but you did have to be watchful when doing so… at least until Data Backup released there Tractor Feed for the ADAM Printer circa 1986. Then, of course, Eve Electronics’ SP-1, SP-1P and Orphanware’s PIA2 Interfaces were released in ’86/’87 so Dot Matrix Printers became the norm for most.

  2. Coleco also did the universal serial/parallel interface unit which connected to ADAMNet and offered a parallel port that could be the system printer and a serial port that could be switched between being the printer, a comm port (ADAMLink software would have had to be modified to use it) and an alternative keyboard port. In fact, i did the first version of this as a way of testing whether or not the word processor could really take in a 96K document. With the adapter pretending it was the keyboard, I could set an IBM PC or something else next to the ADAM and upload long documents via the keyboard port. The ADAM’s word processor simply thought it was someone typing *really* fast. That remained a hidden feature in the production version of the universal interface unit. I’m sorry I don’t have any mockups or photos of the finished units. I only have a handmade prototype in an aluminum box.

    I always thought a useful addition for the printer would be a set of color-matched hearing protectors. 🙂

  3. There’s got to be one or two laying around. I remember reading about the Tractor Feed option in several catalogs back in the day. Maybe it was a “coming soon” sort of thing, but they were advertised I’m sure.

  4. Thanks for the addition info. on the Proto Parallel/Serial Interface. As far as I know, there are two of these units in existence… your’s and Phil Kosowsky. Phil worked at Coleco in a testing/repair department and recently got back in touch with Joe Blenkle and myself. He also ran an ADAM repair and mail-order business for many years after his days at Coleco.

    Here is a link to an AtariAge Forum thread that I started with some further info on this interface and numerous pictures that Phil provided me. Suffice it to say that he is not selling! :- (

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