Letter to Santa & printer woes

Earlier this year I was having some printer issues with my Coleco ADAM computer.  It seems some soldering needs to be done to put some loose stuff back in place on the motherboard inside the printer.  I, being a bit busy and sadly without an iron, realized I had a working printer thanks to Paul Thurrott, a tech writer who gave me his Coleco ADAM.  Once I got everything back in order I took the opportunity to write to Santa for some things I want.  Here’s the video.


Peanut Butter contest to win a Coleco ADAM computer?

Every once in a while I will go on Twitter and type “Coleco ADAM” in their search to see what people are discussing when it comes to this computer.  As you may have guessed, it’s usually negative and those making those negative comments almost always never owned an ADAM.  Once in a blue moon, a tweet regarding the ADAM takes me by surprise.  One such tweet is from user Geoff Wozniak.

A contest to win an ADAM involving a peanut butter jar?  When I asked him about this, he responded with:

So now I ask you, the ADAMites, do you know anything about this contest? Do you have some details you can share with the rest of us?  If so, please tell us in the comment section below for others to read.  Thanks!

What is that thing in this Coleco ADAM photo?

I came across a photo on Getty Images that I have never seen before.  It appears that Coleco’s CEO Arnold Greenberg is showing off the Coleco ADAM computer at a trade show.  In the background of the image, sitting on a shelf is a package with the ADAM logo.  If I was willing to pay a huge amount of money, I could download a very large image which would most likely reveal what that item is.  I’m not willing to pay that.  If you know that ADAM item, let me know in the comments below.  Thanks!

EDIT: I was looking at this photo some more and you can see that the console is one of the prototype/mock-ups we seen in publicity shots.  The tape drive doors and lack of eject button on top is what drew me to that conclusion.  Perhaps those doors do work or maybe the tape drives are just for show, but still has the built-in word processor.  I want my hands on those prototype models even if they are just empty shells.


Ask Howard: Would it have been possible to run MS-DOS on the ADAM?

I’m not as brainy as a lot of the Coleco ADAM users, so sometimes I ask questions that may seem obvious to them.  However, asking these obvious questions to the right person sometimes reveals interesting tidbits of history I knew nothing about.  So I asked Howard Eglowstein, a Senior Software Engineer at Coleco, if it would have been possible to run MS-DOS on the ADAM.  Howard writes:

“On the face of it, no. MS-DOS was written as 86-DOS and then Microsoft bought it.  From conception it was written for the 8086 processor (but designed to feel like CP/M) and never existed for a Z80 or 8080.  ADAM seriously failed a requirements test because it was the wrong chip.”

“That said, there was a proposal floated around that would have changed that.  The IBM-PC Jr was a lightweight PC for the home.  To make sure that it didn’t dominate the space, Steve Perlman (who later went to Apple, then came up with WebTV and OnLive) had proposed a box that sat on the side of the ADAM and had an 8088 processor.  The ADAM served as a platform to emulate the peripherals that a PC clone needed.  So when the chip wanted to talk to a disk, it talked to the Z80 and said “pretend you’re a disk and get me a boot sector”.  The Z80 then talked to the ADAMNet master, etc. and did what it could.  If you decided that was too slow (and it would have been awful) you could buy addons with real PC hardware in them.  In particular the memory emulation alone would have made the scheme unworkable.  Steve certainly thought outside the box though, and had that gone forward we would have turned ADAM into the world’s slowest PC compatible.  I have the original spec here somewhere. I should find and post it. It’s beautifully written and quite clever.”

A Coleco ADAM commercial I’ve never seen before

There are several commercials for the Coleco ADAM computer and I’ve seen them all.  Well, I thought I did.  TV Retro Promos uploaded a commercial for our beloved system that I’ve never seen before.  In it, we see a young man with sister & father in tow bringing an ADAM into their home and straight to his room.  This is the only time I recall someone holding an ADAM box in a commercial.  For those that seen this commercial back when it aired, they must have been blown away by the size.  Next we see him setting up and connecting his ADAM to a television that matches the color of the system.  Interesting.  It’s like the monitor we wish Coleco made for the computer.  I tried to see what other items were in his bedroom, but sadly, the video has some tracking issues.  I do see that he has a thing for lamps…

Anyway, the commercial ends with the siblings playing some Buck Rogers and the usual tagline about commanding the powers of ADAM.

Ma and Pa Caponi still enjoy playing Frenzy!


I am always surfing the world wide web for anything having to do with the Coleco ADAM computer.  Not long ago I came across an interesting video of an older couple playing Frenzy (the sequel to Berzerk) on an ADAM computer via the ColecoVision slot built-in.  I wanted to know more about what I was watching so I reached out to the poster of the video and this is what he AND she had to say. OH, and watch the video at the very bottom.

Hey Justin,

The older couple in the video are my in-laws and my wife as well. The back story is in 1983 my father-in-law Sam, bought this Adam computer for his oldest son who was starting college at the time. Based on what Sam tells me about buying this computer, a big draw for getting an Adam was it came with a $500 college scholarship. There is a YouTube video of the commercial highlighting the scholarship incentive. My wife was supposed to get that scholarship but it never panned out.

My in-laws used the computer for a couple of years until in 1985 when they made their way from Long Island down to Greensboro, NC. I’m not sure when, but sometime after arriving in NC they mothballed the Adam. So the Adam collected dust in their attic where it was out of sight out of mind for a couple of decades. Around 2010 my in-laws offered the Adam to my wife and I when they were doing some clean up in their attic.

Not much changed for the Adam. My wife and I didn’t have much use for it so we took it home and it collected more dust in our attic for the next six years. A couple of months ago we decided to clear out some of the clutter and sell what we could on Craigslist.

I got the Adam down from the attic, dusted it off, set it up and hooked it to a small non-digital TV I was also trying to get rid. To my amazement the Adam started up without issue! I didn’t test it out too deeply but I did test out the handful of games my in-laws had bought over the years. All but one worked.

One of the games was a knock off of the old 80’s shoot-em’ up arcade game “Berserker” which Coleco branded “Frenzy.” When I told my in-laws I the system up and running my devoutly religious mother-in-law confessed that she loved playing “Frenzy” as a way to get out her frustrations by shooting at the robots in the game. So while I had the Adam set up I invited her to come over and play it before I sold the system. The video I posted is from that day. I especially like how my father-in-law is backseat driving her while she is playing!

The ad for the Adam sat out on Craigslist for about three weeks or so without a single bite. Finally a guy, an Electrical Engineer, who lived over 100 miles away on the other side of Raleigh came out and bought it. We sold it for $80. That price included the small TV. Later the same day we had another person who was interested in buying it. Perhaps I could have gotten more. Well it’s not an exciting story but that’s the story.

– Mike

Thanks for your interest, Justin. Mike pretty well summed it up, except that I was supposedly the one who was to reap the benefits of the mythical $500. scholarship – it didn’t happen (Oh, I had to pay for school without Coleco’s help, thanks) but “the struggle” propelled me to academic excellence.

– Marie