The Cult of Coleco Adam

My second true computer, after the TI-99/4a, was the Coleco Adam:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Oh boy. I’ve sung 18th century church choral music with atheists, taken part in a medieval reenactment society that doesn’t believe in either religion or class, even attempted to introduce Emacs to a DreamWeaver addict, but THAT, I have to say, is more tragic than anything else I’ve seen.

ADAMcon. Hoooo boy. If they ever got a life, they’d still need to get a life.

It doesn’t suprize me. There are still C64 user groups out there.

I had an Adam, although you seem to remember way more about it than I do. I don’t seem to remember doing too much with mine, and soon upgrade to a used Apple IIe and eventually the Apple IIgs, which would be my last Apple computer.

The selling point for the system was the $500 college scholarship that was being given away by Coleco when you purchased one of these. I’ve never seen a dime of that $$$. I remember there being some type of class action suit over it at some point, but it’s hard to get blood from a stone.

Oh boy, this takes me back. The ADAM was my first computer, and I had nothing but trouble with it. I eventually returned it and bought an Apple ][c clone.

Still, it was fun to use, when I wasn’t gritting my teeth while printing.

Anybody up for a TRS-80 CON?

So Jeff, you have a future as a docent at a computer museum.

There are still C64 user groups out there.

Yes, but the C64 was actually popular-- in fact, it was one of the most popular early computers. The ADAM wasn’t!

Check out the section of the graph from 1982-1987.

There’s a great companion article to the above link at Ars Technica:

Total share: 30 years of personal computer market share figures

I took a gander at the site and sifted through a few of the code samples and it looks an awfully lot like Java.

My original TS/1000 (w/ its 16k expansion pack) is not more than 10 feet away from me as I type.

I’m betting the JUKI daisywheel I had for a compaq was louder. That sucker could get the whole table jumping… It didn’t so much imprint the character as practically punch it out of the paper.

On the plus side, you could probably have read it even without the ribbon.

Buck Rogers baby!

Wow, that just took me back about 20 years. I fondly remember sitting upstairs in my room and hearing the deafening roar of my dad printing something on our Adam, downstairs and on the other side of the house. Memories…

After reading the several posts before me, it caused me to go down memory lane. Yes, I remember the days of the Trading Post BBS, where I got to know several Adamites, Yes, I remember the previous conventions, AC02 through the current time. Even though I have NOT been able to attend the last few conventions, because of several changes in my life, that does not make me love the ADAM or the several friends I have met over the years. One friend I met, 20 years plus is STILL my best freind, so as Rich said, the ADAM has been good to me.I still have working ADAM’s, still got the Trading Post BBS system, course the internet put a stop to that, and YES, I also have the emmulator software thanks to the programming skills of many of you. To be exact, I still got the 2nd phone line that the bbs ran on, that comes in handy quite often when the main line is in use, or for testing or tinkering with other systems. With luck, I would LOVE to make ADAMXon 18, and support Guy, for he sure as heck has supported us in the past. I was very glad to hear that he had gotten 18. I don’t post or reply often, but I am still aware of MOST of what is going on.

Yes, I gave that speech at ADAMcon 007 in 1995. Yes, I have been to every ADAMcon from IV to 17 (except 10), and was Chairman for ADAMcon XIII. Yes, I still use my ADAM. Yes, I will be at ADAMcon 18 in Chicago in July 2006. Yes, it is all about the people now, but we still bring real ADAMs and set them up and do stuff with them, even though many people bring laptops with emulators.

Before the web, before the net, and even before BBSes, people who owned home computers had to form local user groups with actual in-person monthly meetings in order to get support for their particular model. This produced strong friendships which, in our case, have lasted for more than 20 years, even as the computers (and alas, some of the people themselves) have gone to the landfill.

The ADAM, despite many faults, has interesting technical design features. Indeed, most home computers of that era, in the period of adaptive radiation before the great extinction caused by the emergence of the IBM PC standard, are similarly interesting and quirky on the inside. They are simple enough to learn everything about, and you can easily carry the whole machine around inside your head. That vanished from mainstream home computing about the time of Windows 3.1.

Communities like our ADAM family are a product of that time, and as such look silly to people who have had Windows, Pentiums, and the Internet all their lives. Communities still form today around the same kinds of arcana as the ADAM, but these are not likely to be in-person. Communities all, just different communications media.

I wouldn’t trade my 18-year hobby with the ADAM (which began when I rescued my Dad’s original Christmas 1984 ADAM from the dumpster) for anything. Hacking the ADAM has taught me stuff that I have used in my professional research and teaching, stuff that my CS and CE students never get taught by straight academic faculty. I owe lifelong friends, and my wife-to-be, to the machine that Art Greenberg (President of Coleco Industries) once described as “a typewriter that plays Donkey Kong”. Corny as it may sound, we ADAMites really are a family. Everyone should be so lucky as we are to have that at some point in their lives.


Yes, flogging dead horses does seem pretty futile. But there was and still is much to be enjoyed when old computer fans get together. My wife’s Amiga group is a part of the larger Commodore group and meets with them; we both go to Adamcons and will be at 18.
And my ambition? Get more familiar with the Amiga, and learn the stash of TI-99/4as that I keep in the basement among the stash of Adams. Who knows, maybe sometime I’ll even examine the Vic20 or Timex-Sinclair.


A tear comes to my eye. This was also my second compute after the TI-99/a4 and yes it was a total piece to something and I was constantly tripping over some limititation of some sort or the other, but like many freaks and nerds out there, I souped mine up with hard disks, 3.5 drives, etc all from this company Micro innovation. I then ditched it for the Amiga world, NexT computer, followed by the OS X revolution.

I recently bought two excellent examples from eBay along with purchsing some memory upgrades and floppy disks from Adams House and a lifetime supply for DDS tapes.

Why? I have no clue. I thihnk I just like having one around to annoy the crap out of me. The only reason I found this page now was because I was looking for some sign of life among former Adam nuts out there.

If anyone is ready to take the walk down memory lane, soup these suckers up and play with TDos until our fingers bleed, then hit me on email or something.

Also buy the adam desktop eeprom. Really useful.


Never2Funky, llc

Office: 609-910-1533
Skype: Never2Funky

For me, the Adam is really where it began and to this day I still tinker on it occasionally. I’m also happy to say that I likely have the only two Adams here in Japan :wink:

It’s the notstalgia of an era where computers were fun, acessible and yet quirky. And yes, the friends made, despite never having been to an Adamcon.

The limited memory and speed is also a good arena in which to learn tight coding skills and critical problem solving abilities. It’s a great way to learn efficient programming.

I look forward to the day in the near future where my son can start tinkering in SmartLogo. I look forward to seeing what his creative efforts will produce and regret that I have not kept programs I made from my youth.

Any AUFG magazine holders out there?

If anyone would like a Coleco ADAM (with MODEM, 64K expansion) in its original packaging with 2 tape drives, 2 disk drives and a few dozen cartridges, disks and programs please drop me a line with the word ADAM in the subject. All can be had for less than a $100. And it still works.

After seeing the comments above, I feel the need to add a few of my own. I first got dragged into computers 4 years after the ADAM was orphaned. My son was young and just starting w/computers, and I got pulled along. Since that time, he has moved on [with me trailing behind, of course]into the ibm world; but still has his ADAM and fiddles with it for fun. I, for the most part, as editor of the monthly ADAM News Network, still fiddle with the 5 ADAM’s set up in the house along with 4 desktops and about 6 laptops. ADAM does a supurb job of yearly income taxes, although we must recopy the info on a gov’t form. We used Excel 2003 to duplicate the forms this year…found it a littel easier to program the formula’s; BUT found nothing new that Excel did which ADAM Calc didn’t do; except do formula’s easier and calculate faster. sigh…nothing new under the sun, is there. Anyway, I am proud to throw my lot in with the above ADAM enthusiasts; and organize as well as attend our yearly conventions. I just wish that my blankity, blank ibm w/ windows was as forgiving and easy to use as some ADAM applications. Oh, for simpler times…

I had an Adam. It burned up in my home in 1999. Remember ADAM’s HOUSE? They supported the ADAM with products for MANY years. I wonder if they are still around? Anyway, I have spent more on my TRS-80 Color Computer stuff in the last year than I have on my PC in the last 5 (and my PC is an Athlon 64 these days). By the way there are TRS-80 FESTS! There is one every year in Chicago, IL for the TRS-80 Color Computer :slight_smile: -r