The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!
Coleco Adam's Future
I have recently read your article titled "Coleco's Adam: A Hands-On Report" in the March 1984 issue of COMPUTE!. Since that time, I am sure many changes have occurred at Coleco. The Adam computer system is currently on sale for under $500 and comes with a free $500 scholarship program. Along with the shortcomings and problems that you have encountered with the Adam, I understand that the Adam will no longer be produced by early 1985. Therefore, I would appreciate your comments on the following questions:
1. Have there been any improvements made in the Adam that have changed your opinions about the entire system?
2. Are there and will there be software, replacement parts, etc., available for the Adam computer system?
3. Will COMPUTE! publish any articles or programs written for the Adam?
In early January, despite earlier denials, Coleco decided to discontinue the Adam. The existing inventory will be sold at closeout prices, and software and peripherals should be available at least through 1985.
Usually when a personal computer is discontinued, its support (in terms of software, peripherals, books, and magazine coverage) tapers off considerably after about a year. Obviously, that's because it represents a shrinking market compared to other computers which are still being produced. The Adam is in an even weaker position because it received little outside support to begin with and has been available only about a year and a half. If you are contemplating buying an Adam or already own one and intend to keep using it, our recommendation is to immediately acquire any peripherals, software, and books you think you'll need before they disappear.
As far as repairs are concerned, Coleco says Honeywell will continue to be the authorized service network. If your Adam breaks down, take it to your nearest Honeywell repair station. You can find the nearest station, and obtain answers to other questions, by calling Coleco's toll-free hotline: 1800-842-1225. It is staffed by operators during East Coast business hours.
Here are answers to your other questions:
1. We've heard fewer complaints about the reliability problems encountered by some people who bought early models of the Adam. (It should be noted that early production models of virtually all new computers are subject to reliability problems as manufacturers fix last-minute design bugs and get their production up to speed-and that includes low-end home computers such as the Adam to high-end business computers such as the IBM PC-AT.) The possibility of accidentally erasing the Adam's SmartBASIC tape still seems to exist, but Coleco now cautions users against this mistake. And although the basic design of the Adam system has not been changed, additional peripherals have become available, such as a floppy disk drive.
2. There was no rush by third-party (nonColeco) software publishers to sell programs for the Adam. However, in the past year Coleco expanded its own line of software; you should check this out to see if the software you need is available before buying an Adam. By adding an optional operating system-Personal CP/M-a large library of CP/Mcompatible programs will work on the Adam. CP/M was the dominant operating system for business computers before MS-DOS, so thousands of business application programs and programming utilities are available.
3. COMPUTE! has no plans to publish programs written specifically for the Coleco Adam. Coleco designed SmartBASIC to be compatible with Applesoft, so you might try entering some BASIC listings intended for the Apple. However, be aware that the Adam and Apple have very little in common internally-even the central processing units are different (the Z80A versus the 6502). That means the machine language is incompatible, and Applesoft programs with PEEKS, POKES, and CALLS will have to be extensively translated. Also, Apple programs would not take advantage of the Adam's more advanced features, such as sprite graphics and sound.