Expandable Computer News (ECN) is published bi-monthly
by Sage Enterprises. Subscription rates are $15.00 per year (6 issues)
U.S. and Canada; $21.00 foreign. All subscriptions payable to Sage
Enterprises in U.S. funds only. Send all correspondence (subscriptions,
ads, reviews, orders, articles and products) to: Sage Enterprises,
Expandable Computer News, Rt. 2, Box 211, Scrivner Rd., Russellville, MO
65074. Telephone 314/782-3448 from 9 am to 4p m CT Monday, Tuesday,
Staff: Editor - Darrell R. Sage, Associate - Shirley I. Sage, Assistants -
Carol Quinn, Cover by Ted Gocal
NOTE: The views expressed by contributors to ECN are not necessarily those
of the publisher. ECN and Sage Enterprises are not in any way affiliated
with Coleco Industries, Inc. We welcome contributions of original
articles, programs, reviews, comments, questions, etc. We are unable to
pay for such contributions at this time. Please include a signed statement
giving us authorization to use your contribution. We would like to thank
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would not be possible. Coleco, SmartBASIC, and other Coleco products are
registered trademarks of Coleco Industries, Inc.; other trademarks apply
to titles of products and are held by those companies referenced.
Sage Enterprises has available for sale a number of products for the ADAM
Family Computer System as listed below. To order any of these products
send check or money order payable to Sage Enterprises in U.S. Funds to the
address listed above. Missouri residents please add sales tax. All prices
include shipping and handling.
CP/M Disk Transfer Program
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Library 4 (ddp)
Library 4 (disk)
U.S. & Canadian Price
From The Ridge
by D. Sage
Welcome to our special issue, or the first of
two special issues. I'm not sure how this is going to turn out so we
may carry over into the next issue. There are a lot of illustrations
that I want to include as part of this historical issue. I realize that
these illustrations waste a lot of space, but many of them are classics
that will bring back some fond and not so fond memories. Anyway, I have
tried to pick and choose some classics. This issue should include most
of the regular columns, but the final draft won't be run until long
after I have written this so some things may have to go or others may
be added. Who knows!
AUG has ceased publication of AUGMENT. They
subscription obligations with copies of their word processing
newsletter and some shorter ADAM supplements.
As usual this is late, but it is difficult to
control a production schedule with all the problems that seem to crop
up. The weather in the form of thunderstorms can't be helped. When
those hit on weekends, it is difficult to make up the lost time.
I still have a stack of programs and projects
that have been sent in. Looks like these will go into one or two
special issues on programs and projects sometime in the future. Until
then I hope you enjoy this and the next issue as much as I have in
putting them together. Return to Top
by D. Sage
Rattigan, head of Commodore was recently fired. If you will recall he
is the former Pepsi executive who was hired to replace Marshall Smith.
Under Smith's management Commodore nearly went bankrupt. Under
Rattigan's leadership the company finally returned to profitability, so
naturally they fired him and about 50 other managers. Looks like
Commodore has returned to the kinds of decision making that brought us
the Plus-4 and other fiascos.
IBM announced the PS/2 line of personal
computers. These systems are to include an operating system that
will allow connectivity of all systems in the IBM line from micro to
mainframe. Naturally, the new operating system is not ready and
may not be ready until well into next year. Talk about selling a pig in
a poke. Of course they are using nearly the entire former MASH crew to
sell the new products. I'm convinced. I for one won't miss the Charlie
commercials, but are the new ones really a step forward. Oh yes, IBM
couldn't get Alan Alda. If you'll recall, he used to be under contract
IBM's new systems are supposed to include
proprietary components that will make it difficult for the clone
makers. Closed architecture had been one of the greatest
criticisms of the Macintosh. Now that Apple has seen the light and
begun producing Macs with open architecture, it only makes sense that
IBM would try to give their new systems a closed architecture. Look for
Apple to take advantage of this situation as well as companies like
Zenith and Compaq. Well boys and girls can you spell BIG BLUE MISTAKE?
Atari continues to sell the ST. A lot of the
companies that jumped on the Amiga bandwagon have had second thoughts
and now are switching their primary efforts to supporting the ST. It's
hard not to considering Atari's success and the Amiga's slow start.
Oh yes, yours truly has been asked to serve on
Lotus Software's Advanced User Advisory Panel. I guess some people
think my opinion is worth something. And I even prefer SuperCalc to
Until next time, don't take any wooden
computers. Return to Top
Remember to check your mailing label. The
number of the last issue of your subscription is printed in the upper
right corner of your mailing label. If your current label has number 20
printed on it then this is the last issue of your subscription. You
will not be receiving a renewal notice if your subscription has
expired. Thanks. Return to Top
by Thomas C. Gilmore
This is the third in a series of articles on
FORTH for the ADAM computer. The first two articles focused on WHAT is
available for your ADAM computer, how to put it to work and what FORTH
is and isn't. This article will describe more of the specific
advantages of using FORTH.
First, it seems like a good spot to call
attention again to the three suggested references mentioned
earlier in this series:
1. Starting FORTH, by Leo Brodie, 348 pp., plus
appendices, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1981.
2. Mastering FORTH, by Anita Anderson and
Martin Tracy, 216 pp., Bowie, MD 20715. Brady Communications Co., Inc.,
3. Thinking FORTH, by Leo Brodie, 267 pp. plus
appendices, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1984.
Studying at least one of the first two
tutorials is indispensable for getting started in FORTH on your ADAM.
Also each of the three references includes a summary and discussion of
"generic" FORTH advantages, regardless of the hardware used.
Now, what will an ADAM user notice about using
Relative to BASIC and LOGO, most ADAM users
will be startled by the speed of FORTH execution. Similar to Turbo
Pascal on the ADAM (see the Jan/Feb 1985 issue of ECN), Forth provides
DIRECT! In the on-line (interpretive) mode,
FORTH provides immediate feedback to the user. Without worrying about
conventions of line numbers, the strangeness of yet another text
editor, or even much about language syntax, a new user can start DOING
the examples and exercises from one of the suggested tutorials.
Later, as you become more familiar with the
features and syntax, the possibilities of constructing your own,
"user-friendly" programs will become apparent. You have the ability to
define your own synonyms for ANY word — to make it as short (for fewer
keystrokes) or as long (for ease of remembering what it does) that you
SIMPLE TO TEST! You do NOT have to write a
complete program, as you do in BASIC and even Pascal, to begin testing
what you have written. In fact, some system and program designers will
use FORTH for "sketching out" their design and trying it, EVEN IF they
plan to eventually implement the design in some other language!
COMPACT! Memory usage for code and data is
minimal. In fact, the FORTH code that you get from ECN is about the
smallest for programming that you will find anywhere in terms of memory
size. That leaves LOTS of space for your programs.
POWERFUL! The "multiplying effect" that you
obtain -- getting the use of a lot of compiled code by just writing a
bit of source text — is quite astounding. Sometimes you have to
develop a level or two of new FORTH words before you can make practical
use of this power in a new application (computing problem). There are
no artificial restrictions on how few or how many levels you develop.
MORE PERSONAL! To me, the ADAM, particularly
with ADAMCalc and ADDRESS BOOK, set a new high level (in 1985) of how
personal a "personal computer" could be. Now, FORTH on the ADAM carries
that into the program-development (or software development) arena. For
a computer hobbyist and/or home computerist that can be a lot of fun
If your learning and thinking style is more
linear ("left-brain") you may possibly feel more at home with BASIC,
ASSEMBLER, or Pascal. However, if you prefer, as I do, more of the
parallel ("right-brain") learning and thinking style, FORTH (like
SmartLOGO) may be more your thing. Yes, that's how I would sum it up
for ADAM users: FORTH is most similar to SmartLOGO — it's like getting
SmartLOGO with SPEED!
The important point is that, whatever your
style and/or the characteristics of the computing problem at hand, you
can have a choice of software with which to get it done, in a
personally satisfying way. Even if you're and experienced hacker
who now prefers only to work in assembler (or machine) code, FORTH
provides an interesting and useful alternative tool for development and
Now here is another short program file (called
a "screen") in FORTH:
scr #9 SAMPLE.BLK
0 1/2 Example of double-size (32-bit) variables 1Jun86tcg
1 1/2 Interactively create a 32-bit variable d 1/4 for the OK tolerance
2 : tolerate ( n -- )
3 1/2 Store the input number for the allowable tolerance
4 s>d d 1/4 2! ;
5 : check ( d1 d2 -- )
6 1/2 check to see if the 32-bit number d2 is "close enough" to d1
7 d- dabs d 1/4 2@ ( find absolute difference )
8 d> if ." not" ( compare to tolerance d 1/4 )
9 else ." about the same"
10 then ;
And here is what it looks like when you
compile and run it:
2 variable d 1/4 ok
9 load ok
2 tolerate ok
300,000 299,998 check about the same ok
300,000 299,997 check not ok
3 tolerate ok
300,000 299,997 check about the same ok
programmers, FORTH, unlike almost all other computer languages, DOES
accept commas in INPUT numbers!)
In the next article, we'll point out some of
the design features of FORTH and how they work, including a
step-by-step discussion of a sample program. Return to
What's An Xmodem
by John Moore
As soon as one begins telecomputing, the word
"Xmodem" appears and never seems to leave. What is an "Xmodem," anyway?
It's not a thing - you don't go down to the Computer store and order a
Hayes Xmodem! Xmodem is a "protocol." An agreement between
computers on how they will transmit data between them.
The original program was Ward Christensen's
MODEM way back in 1977 (ancient times as far as personal computers go).
His original work is essentially the same as today's Xmodem (checksum).
Since he released his work into the public domain, Christensen has
never made a dime from it, but his pioneering efforts are recognized by
the alternate name sometimes used for Xmodem: the "Christensen
Protocol." Other names you may run across are MODEM7 and CPMUG (CP/M
Users' Group) Protocol.
Xmodem requires complete "transparency" to all
256 possible values of a hex digit. By this, I mean that the
communications link must pass each value unchanged! For this reason,
Xmodem is only possible with your modem set to 8 bits (since it takes
all 8 bits to give 256 values), no-parity (since using a parity check
will actually change the value of a byte), and 1 stop bit. It cannot
work over networks with 7-bit data links, or networks which use certain
ASCII codes (like X-on or X-Off) for their own special purposes.
The Xmodem protocol is often called a
"receiver-driven" protocol. This is one way of saying that the receiver
always has to make the first move. It is sometimes called a
"send-and-wait" system, since the sending computer transmits data to
the receiver and then waits for an appropriate response before
The regular Xmodem "standard" sends data in
blocks of 128 bytes. This means that the last block may contain as many
as 127 bytes of useless data (garbage), since it must be "filled up"
with something before being sent!
To see how the protocol works, let's examine
the simplest version in use today: Xmodem (checksum). To get things
going, the operator tells the transmit program on the remote system
(usually KMD) the name of a file to send. The system opens the file for
transmission and begins waiting. Meanwhile, the operator instructs
his local terminal program to receive the file. It opens the file for
input and sends a NAK (Negative Acknowledge - ASCII 15H). As soon as
the sender sees this, it begins transmission of a tightly-specified
block of data.
The format of the data block is this: the first
character is an SOH (Start Of Header - ASCII 01H). The next two bytes
are the "block #" and it's complement. Let's stop and examine the
reasons behind this. The complement of a number in binary is the
"mirror image" of its bits.
0000 1001 = 9 (binary)
1111 0110 = complement of 9
Notice that if you add a number and it's
complement, the total will always be 1111 1111 (binary - FF Hex -
255 decimal). If you add 1 to it, the total becomes zero. Because of
that, telecommunications programs can add "the first three bytes"
of each block and if the sum isn't zero, an error has occurred!
It would be possible for multiple errors to
"offset" each other, but that is very unlikely. Block numbers start at
1, go to 255, and then repeat. Block #0 is not allowed!
Now, the sending computer transmits the 128
bytes of data. As it sends them, it adds the value of the data byte to
a storage location with "no carry." This means that if the location has
the value 255 and you add 1 to it, the new value is 0.
When all data has been sent, the machine
transmits (as a 129th byte) the current value stored (the
checksum). The receiver has been doing its own sum on the received
data, and it compares the two values. If there's a difference, we have
an error! The receiver transmits a NAK. If the two values are the same
(and there was no error in the header), an ACK (ACKnowledge - ASCII 06)
A NAK always forces the sender to re-transmit
the last information. ACK indicates correct reception and gives
permission to advance to the next block. This is one of the weak points
of the protocol. Single-byte responses could be garbled by
transmission noise over the telephone lines. The worst thing that
could happen would be a NAK that got changed to an ACK.
The problem is that the Xmodem protocol has no
way for the receiver to tell the sender to "back up!" If the two get
"out of sync" they can never get back together. The result will be a
lot of errors. For this reason, most Xmodem programs have an error
counter that will automatically abort after - say - ten errors.
When the sending computer sees an ACK, it will
send the next block. When there are no more blocks, it will answer the
ACK by sending an EOT (End Of Transmission - ASCII 04). This is another
"single-character command," but some programs add a little extra
reliability by automatically sending a NAK after an EOT. If the first
EOT was some other character that was "trashed" by noise, it's unlikely
that exactly the same error would occur the second time. If the second
transmission is also an EOT, the receiver replies with an ACK, and
everyone knows the transfer is over.
Somewhere along the line, users decided that it
would be nice to have a way to stop a transfer if things were not
working right. Most programs were changed so that while the sender was
waiting for an ACK or NAK (or while the receiver was waiting for a
SOH), the transfer could be stopped by sending a CAN (CANcel - ASCII
18H or "Control-X").
Since this was another "single-byte command" it
was decided to require two CAN characters in a row to force the abort.
As we've mentioned, it's not as likely that two characters will be
changed as one.
The checksum method of error-detection was
replaced by a better method around 1980 (except in most of the
commercial CP/M programs where checksum is still quite often the only
Xmodem choice). Instead of a one-byte checksum at the end of each block
of data, the new implementation required a two-byte CRC (Cyclic
Redundancy Check) value be transmitted.
How this value is calculated is beyond the scope of this article, but I
am assured that using the CRC check in the Xmodem protocol will catch
99.997% of all transmission errors - not a bad average! Checksum, on
the other hand, can miss some gross errors. As an example, if something
was "stripping off" the high bit of every byte, a checksum program
would not catch it!
To make this addition to the protocol, a small
change had to be made in both the sending and receiving programs. A
receiver capable of CRC checking will inform the transmitter by sending
a "C" (ASCII 43H) before the first block, instead of the usual NAK. If
the sender is properly equipped, it will recognize this, switch its own
error checking to CRC and begin to send data. If the sender is not
equipped, it won't recognize the "C" and will keep waiting for a NAK.
For this reason, it is essential that receiving programs count the
initial tries and automatically step down to the checksum method after
no response to the "C" signal, and begin sending NAKs.
As another "single-byte" command, the "C" is
subject to garble. If it should get changed to a NAK, the two programs
would be using two incompatible error-checking methods. This would
result in a lot of re-sending, and eventual timeout - wasting time.
Sending programs must be equipped to switch to
checksum if the first character received is a NAK. In our next article,
we'll discuss Ymodem, Zmodem, and how a mistake can become an
internationally accepted standard! Return to Top
Glitches, Bugs, Errata, Etc.
David Clark advises us that a couple of errors
slipped through in his DIR and MERGE programs. The following line
should be added to the DIR program to make it work properly:
In the MERGE
program, line 230 should read as follows:
230 POKE 65534, 205: POKE 65535, 31
accept his and our apologies for any inconvenience this may have
caused. NOTE: These have been corrected in the online Issue #19.
Brian Lewis advises us that he has recently
published a book, The Naked Australian, that was written on his ADAM
computer. Interested parties should send an SASE to A/A Publishing,
P.O. Box 1772, Carmichael, CA 95609.
Trying to decide what to buy for your ADAM?
Should you get a 64K expander or a printer interface as your next
purchase? Generally, the printer interface will be of the greatest use
to most owners. The 64K expander has only limited use and as some of
you know in most cases it adds little in the way of additional
capability to the ADAM. Return to Top
Chairman of the Kansas ADAM Users Group, advises us that NO ONE is
authorized to raise funds for that now defunct users group. He was
recently informed that another organization was soliciting funds on
behalf of KAUG. No such effort has been authorized by KAUG or any of
its members. Anyone who may have made such a contribution should write
to the soliciting organization and demand a refund.
This is a
"Wheel of Fortune" like game. $10 on disk or $12 on data pack. Contact
the author: John K. Davis, 6 Burress, Apt. 1107, Houston, TX 77022.
Carts - $7.50
SpyHunter, Destructor, River Raid, Zaxxon, Beamrider, Fathom,
Subroc, Nova Blast, Time Pilot, Baseball, Fix up/Mix up Puzzler,
Moonsweeper, Slither, Oils Well. Contact: Lee Smith, Box 159, Terre
Hill, PA 17581.
Would like to hear
other ADAM users from anywhere. Contact: Dave Mclntosh, 7 Monsarrat
Crescent, London, Ontario Canada N5Y 4Y7.
My computer is
I'm selling tapes $5 each/full of programs, also ADAM Technical Manual
- $50.00. Contact: G. Witt, 405 E. College, Carbondale, IL 62901, ph.
The ADAM User Group
Palm Beach, Fl, announces the "TARDIS" (The ADAM Resource Downloading
Information System). Online Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays
5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (EST). You do not have to set your modem (ADAMLink).
Just load and Call. Downloading available with Adam Link 2. See our
posting in "Computer Shopper". Formerly known as ADAMTalk. Contact
the ADAM User Group of WPB, 4757 #B Sunny Palm Crl, West Palm Beach, FL
33415. (Sorry phone number was not provided in listing.)
The Adam Users
2226 Patterson, Joplin, MO 64801-6322, has a number of ADAM
products for sale: Hard to find ADAM computer and Colecovision parts
(everything from complete systems to nuts and bolts), disk drives in
stock. Send SASE to the above address for catalog.
NewMArizTexaCol Programmers Group, 7641 Raasaf Blvd., Las Cruces, NM
88005, announces that they have available disassemblies of ADAM'S Basic
and EOS. Send SASE for more information. Return to Top
The following is a list of a few of the
companies that sell ADAM products. To obtain a catalog from these
companies, send them a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Alpha-1, 1671 E. 16th St., Suite 146,
Brooklyn, NY 11229, ph. 718/336-7612. They carry a wide selection of
ADAM products—hardware, software, supplies, etc.
DO NOT STAMP SOFTWARE, 2608 West 600
South, Roy, Utah 84067. Software.
Elliam Associates, 24000 Bessemer St.,
Woodland Hills, CA 91367. CP/M Software.
Eve Electronics, 2 Vernon St., Suite
404, Framingham, MA 01701. Hardware, CP/M Software.
Extended Software Co., 11987 Cedarcreek
Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45240. Software.
M.W. Ruth Co., 510 Rhode Island Ave.,
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002, ph. 609/667-2526. Wide selection of ADAM
hardware, software, & supplies.
Orphanware, 5665 Myers Rd., Akron, OH
44319, ph. 216/882-4720. Hardware & software.
Reedy Software, 10085 60th St., Alto, MI
This list is not intended to be comprehensive,
nor is it intended to be a specific endorsement of any one company.
Nevertheless, in our dealings with these companies, we have found them
to be reputable and generally prompt in filling orders. Return
The list of users' groups continues to grow. If
there isn't one in your area to join - start one!
#1 Adam User's Group
P.O. Box 3761 - Attn: Jay Forman
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
James E. Gilbert
4608 Lakeview Dr.
Huntsville, AL 35810
Victor L. Watford
P.O. Box 777
Russellville, AL 35653
7210 Bulen Drive
Anchorage, AK 99507
4525 S. White Pine
Tucson, AZ 85730
Robert R. Marentes
9425 N. 38th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85021
East Bay ADAM Group (EBAG)
6097 Slopview Court
Castro Valley, CA 94552
So. California ADAM Users
1736 So. Bedford Street
Los Angeles, CA 90035
13381-19 Magnolia Ave.
Corona, CA 91719
Central Calif. Adam User's Group
James Turner, Jr.
20110 Ave. 19
Madera, CA 93637
San Diego Adam Users Group
Dr. Harold Alexander
37 Catspaw Cape
Coronado, CA 92118
AUG of San Diego County
868 N. 2nd St. #242
El Cajon, CA 92021
Bay Region ADAM Information Network
550 27th St. #202
San Francisco, CA 94131
Inland Empire Users Group
6644 Seine Ave.
Highland, CA 92346
Denver ADAM User's Group
1416 Lipan St.
Denver, CO 80204
ADAM Users Group #305
John F. Busby, II
6634 SW 41st St.
Davie, FL 33314
Emerald Coast ADAM User's Group
1010 Gloria Drive
Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548
Robert J. Niemeyer
292 Boca Ciega Point Blvd. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33708
ADAM User's Group
Michael G. Graham
217 Albert St.
Winter Springs, FL 32709
ADAM Support Group
1870 Fisher Tr. NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
2335C Apollo Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96818
Donald R. Lager
5415 N. 2nd St.
Rockford, IL 61111
KC Users Group
Kansas City, KS 66102
Greater Cincinatti Adam Users Group
c/o Keith Bowman
P.O. Box 434
Alexandria, KY 41001
P.O. Box 85
East Detroit, MI 48021
Bill & Nancy Rahn
12426-15th St. S.
Afton, MN 55001
Outsider's Users Group
P.O. Box 771
Starkville, MS 39759
Omaha ADAM Users Club
809 West 33rd Ave.
Bellevue, NE 68005
4327 Thorndale Pl.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Metro Adam User's Group
414 W. 149th St.
New York, NY 10031
Genesee Valley Adam Users
Donald K. Zimmermah
5132 Jordon Road
Silver Springs, NY 14550
ADAM-X-Change (New York & Canada)
Wolcott, NY 14590
Tri-Angle Adam Users
L-5 Oak Grove
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Mutual ADAM Users Group
412 Bettie Street
Akron, OH 44306
Lake Erie Adam Users
2110 W. 36th Street
Lorain, OH 44503
Portland Adam Users Group
P.O. Box 1081
Portland, OR 97207
The (717) Adam Users
120 E. 4th ST.
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Midsouth ADAM Users
Roger Burford, Lot 142 NAS MHP
Millington, TN 38053
Adam Users of El Paso
4821 Vista Del Monte
El Paso, TX 79922
c/o Thomas Rutan
1805 14th Ave. N
Texas City, TX 77590
Norfolk ADAM Group
Gerald M. Steen
1000 Rockbridge Ave. #144
Norfolk, VA 23508
ADAM Users Group of Central Virginia
Thomas J. Kelly
3B, Rt. 664
Earlysville, VA 22936
ADAM Washington D.C. Users Group
1811 St. Roman Dr.
Vienna, VA 22180
Puget Sound Adam Network
22607 SE 322nd
Kent, WA 98042
USNH, Box 2844
FPO Seattle, WA 98778
95 Harland Crescent
Ajax, Ontario L1S 1K2
Claresholm, Alberta T0L 0T0
Edmonton Adam Users Group
14712 - 122 St.
Edmonton, Alberta T5X 1V9
1420 Ave. Langevin Sud
Alma, Quebec G8B 6B1
7350 Roi Rene
Anjou, Quebec H1K 3G6
Mr. G. Hibbert
P.O. Box 10
Mistatim, Saskatchewan S0E 1B0
First Canadian Adam User's Group
P.O. Box 547 Victoria Station
Westmount, Quebec H3Z 2Y6
Winnipeg Adam Users Group
729 Government Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2K 1X5
Metro-Toronto Adam Group
P.O. Box 123
260 Adelaide St. East
Toronto, Ontario M5A 1N0
The Bendigo Colecovision Club
C1-2 Fenton St.
Bendigo, VIC 3550, Australia
ADAM Owner's & User's Group
4 Norman Street
Deakin, ACT 2600, Australia
The U.K. ADAM Subscribers
Keith A. Marner
33 Homer Road
Croydon, Surrey, CR0 7SB, England
Return to Top
Origins: Video Games, Home
Computers, ADAM & ECN
by D. Sage
Since this is the fourth year of ECN, I felt
that it would be nice to take a look back at how the home market has
evolved and also trace the history of the ADAM Computer. By reflecting
on the past we are often able to develop a better perspective of
today's events. This is true in the home computer market as well as in
It has always been my contention that the video
game industry had more to do with creating a home computer industry
than did the hobbyist computer industry. Video games brought
sophisticated home (computer) systems to many people, who would
otherwise not have been exposed to this fascinating technology. Today
there remains a division in the home market between the hobbyist
(hacker) and the home user. It is true that some home users have since
become hackers, but many home users are content with simply using their
computers to run packaged software and have no desire to learn about
the complicated hardware that allows them to run that software. Nor do
they have any real desire to program their computers, write
sophisticated spreadsheet or data base macros. These people want
to be able to use their home computers much like they did their video
game systems, and rightly so. They simply want to plug in (load) the
software and use it, without learning complex instructions.
Let's now take a look back and see what
developments have lead us to the present and how this model of the
typical home computer buyer evolved and affected the developments over
the last several years.
Throughout these pages I have tried to include
pictures and illustrations of some of the many products that have
appeared and evolved. I hope these will be legible, but because many of
them were produced in color, the reproduction will certainly suffer.
In 1971 Nolan Bushnell and his associates
introduced PONG under the Atari label. A later version included a
greater variety of options.
While other game systems (RCA & Fairchild)
were introduced during those early days, it was PONG that really
brought video game entertainment into the home. The system first
appeared as an arcade version, but in 1975 was packaged for home use
with a television. Images were strictly black and white, but the
interest in home gaming grew quickly.
Meanwhile, the competition was not sitting idly
by. In 1976 Coleco introduced the Telstar dedicated (no
cartridges) system. Telstar was upgraded several times until it was
programmable (played several different games). The Telstar system
turned out to be a major failure for Coleco, nearly driving the company
into bankruptcy. At the same time Coleco was producing stand alone
games that were quite successful.
Soon a number of fully programmable (cartridge
and cassette) systems appeared on the market. The Bally Astrocade
system was the most spectacular of these systems which also included
Atari's VCS system (1977). The Bally system was powered by the Z80 and
provided excel lent graphics. Unfortunately, Bally was not
familiar with marketing high volume consumer products and was rapidly
pushed aside by Atari's VCS. There of course were other systems such as
the Intellivision and Odyssey by NAP. In August 1982, Coleco reentered
the programmable market with Colecovision. Time to stop and take a
breather. This paragraph covers an awful lot of ground.
By 1982 Atari clearly had the lead in terms of
systems sold. Mattel's Intellivision was in second place and NAP
(Phillips) was in third with Odyssey. Atari, who had slowly been
introducing new games, was faced with a new problem — competition
in the software market. A number of companies had begun introducing
cartridges for the VCS. Some of these included Apollo (Space Caverns,
Spacechase, Skeet Shoot, Racquetball, & Lost Luggage), Activision
(Laser Blast, Kaboom, Grand Prix, & more), Imagic (Demon Attack
& Star Voyager), and Parker Bros. (Star Wars, Frogger). Of
these Activision, Imagic and Parker Bros, would become quite
successful. Apollo would be outclassed and would simply disappear.
Nevertheless, by the beginning of 1982, Atari was beginning to lose
control of the home video game market. Warner's acquisition, while
still turning large profits, was being doomed by internal and external
forces. No longer did gamers have to rely on Atari to quench their
thirst for games and the games from other companies were great. These
upstarts, particularly Imagic, were providing not only excellent game
play but brilliant graphics, pushing the VCS beyond its limited
Intellivision was also eating into the market,
with a variety of excellent introductions. Now their loomed a more
determined opponent on the horizon. In February of 1982, Coleco
announced that they would reenter the home video game market with their
own programmable system that would be superior to anything on the
market, provide an Atari emulator, and include an upward path of
expansion that would include a computer module. As would become
typical, Coleco would promise more than they would fulfill. Their early
game offerings were to include Donkey Kong,
Space Fury, Venture, Mouse Trap, Lady Bug, Cosmic Avenger, Zaxxon,
Carnival, Turbo, Side Trak, Spectar, Rip Cord, Head-to-Head Baseball,
Head-to-Head Football, Skiing, Horse Racing, Blackjack/Poker, Tunnels
& Trolls, Fidelity's Chess Challenger, Smurf, and Mr. Turtle. I am
sure that all of you have these, particularly the ones that I have
underlined. The threat of an expandable system by Coleco quickly got
Atari had just introduced the 5200 Super System
and between that and Coleco's announcement everyone went scurrying back
to the drawing board. A variety of companies sought ways to turn the
VCS into a computer, Intellivision began to work busily on a computer
Atari had wounded itself again. The 5200 was an
incompatible system that could not play VCS cartridges. They literally
handed Coleco the opportunity, to become the game system of the future.
The Colecovision already had a module to allow it to play VCS games as
well as its own superior arcade translations, plus expandability
(whatever that meant). Warner was clearly not ready to deal with a
rapidly changing market and would continue to make mistakes that would
ultimately bring Atari to the brink of extinction. Part of the
problem was that Warner acted as if Atari was invincible. It had the
top selling video game system and its home computers were doing well.
The Atari 400 was selling for $399 and the 800 was selling for $899
(for real). The only competition was coming from Commodore with the
Vic-20 priced at $299 (with its 22 character screen display, Atari used
a 40 character display) and the Sinclair ZX-81 at $99.99.
Warner felt that nothing could go wrong. Warner
failed to perceive that sitting in the wings were a large number of
third party developers who would dump large amounts of VCS cartridge
software on the market. In addition, home computers were on the verge
of undergoing a major transition. Not only were other companies
greedily eyeing the potential for profits, but established competitors
like Commodore were preparing for a major price war that would make the
old gasoline wars look like child's play. Warner was not alone in
misjudging the situation. . A number of Wall Street analysts viewed the
growth potential of this new industry as virtually unlimited. Despite
the fact that their are only so many families in the U.S. that could
afford to buy game systems and home computers as well as their
expensive software, everyone was overly optimistic about the future.
At the June 1982 Consumer Electronics Show,
things began to happen. Emerson introduced the Arcadia 2001 portable
programmable game system that was to have offered some 20 unnamed
titles. Atari introduced the 5200. GCE introduced the Vectrex game
system with its built in vector-graphics screen and games like Berzerk,
Star Trek & Scramble. A number of third party software companies
introduced cartridges for the VCS. Finally, Coleco introduced a nearly
finished Colecovision system (they had not yet obtained FCC approval, a
problem that would delay shipment by several months).
Adding to all of this confusion was the entry
of more companies during the last half of 1982. These included U.S.
Games, Data Age, TigerVision, Comma Vid and Spectravision (all VCS
Carts), The Games Network, and the Arcadia Super Charger for the VCS.
Also introduced were the Commodore 64 and Texas Instrument's 99-4A.
In spite of all of the activity in 1982, 1983
would erupt in a virtual explosion of new introductions for the
Atari VCS and would see a number of other interesting developments
dealing with Coleco's efforts.
At the 1983 Toy Show held in February, Coleco
announced the Super Game Module. The new system was to use the wafer
tape system. A similar system called the stringy floppy was already
being marketed by a third party company for use with Commodore
computers. The SG Module was designed to run a variety of arcade games
that would be expanded from the releases available in cartridge form.
At that time the planned titles included Zaxxon, Buck Rogers, Time
Pilot, Turbo, Sub-Roc, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Smurf Rescue.
You're right, the Super Game Module was never released.
By late spring Coleco had decided to drop the
module and proceed with the ADAM Computer expansion module instead. The
ADAM at this point still had wafer drives instead of the data drives.
The list of Super Games had changed to Slither, Tunnels & Trolls,
Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, Sword and Sorcerer, Cranston Manor, Gorf
and Front Line in addition to the original games planned for the SG
Module. ADAM was set to ship in August with the Expansion Module priced
at $400 and the standalone at $600. All Super Games were scheduled to
be released by Christmas.
1983 was a busy year. Other systems announced
that year included the ill-fated Ultravision. That system included a
built-in color TV and could play Atari VCS, Colecovision and their own
game cartridges. Ultravision never produced a single working system.
Spectravideo, a game cartridge and controller company, introduced the
SV-318 computer that could play Colecovision cartridges as well as Z-80
computer software. Spectravideo was never able to become established in
the U.S. computer market and was later absorbed by Bondwell. Mattel
introduced the Aquarius and late in the year IBM announced the PC JR.
In the fall both Timex and Texas Instruments withdrew from the home
computer market and dumped a large number of computers on the market at
give-away prices. Also during that year Osborne was forced into
bankruptcy while a number of Japanese companies and Microsoft announce
the MSX standard for Z80 home computers.
Meanwhile Coleco was having troubles with ADAM.
The company that originally produced the wafer drives for Commodore
products had gone into bankruptcy and Coleco was finding the system to
be too unreliable. After switching to the data drive technology they
found themselves experiencing difficulty meeting FCC standards. A
number of design changes were required that totally upset production
deadlines and resulted in the ADAM not shipping until late October of
When the ADAM finally shipped it shipped with
incorrect manuals and a number of serious bugs. Additionally, Coleco's
concept of the product did not fully match that of the consumer. The
system, while intended for first time users, turned out to be more
complex to use than expected. New buyers proceeded to erase the
SmartBasic tapes, locked up the word processor and generally became
frustrated with early versions of the product. Large numbers of ADAM'S
were returned not because the hardware was really faulty, but because
of faulty instructions and inadequate warnings. J.C. Penney
promptly dropped the product from their catalogue and Sears soon
The bugs that slipped into SmartWriter and
other software products were never fully corrected and would later lead
to Coleco's decision to drop the ADAM. Originally, SmartBasic was to
have been included in ROM. Most ADAMs should have the empty ROM socket
on the motherboard. Since SmartBasic was to be in ROM there was no need
to make provisions for backup copies. When the product didn't make
it into ROM no one realized that this would be a problem. And yet the
lack of a backup would be the reason many ADAMs were returned when
SmartBasic was inadvertently erased. Because of the many bugs in
SmartBasic, Coleco decided to keep the language on data pack. In the
first months SmartBasic went through many revisions. Often the manual
being shipped failed to reflect the capabilities of the current
versions. Manual pages were revised manually with stick on replacement
pages. A number of bugs were never fixed including the spaces that
automatically appeared in REM and DATA statements. SmartWriter was
burned into ROM with the infamous line-feed problem.
It is my opinion that all of these problems
could have been easily avoided. Why did they occur? Well, partly
because of Coleco's sensitivity to criticism, they simply did not
seek outside input. They also lacked staff that were fully familiar
with the home computer market and the technical understanding of the
product. Time was another factor. Because of the redesign of the
product and production delays, they simply did not have the time to
test the product and get it into production for the Christmas season
that would turn out to be a disaster. Much of the software for the
system was contracted to outside companies and to some extent Coleco
seemed to assume that these companies would provide them with fully
tested workable products.
Another problem that Coleco had was their
desire to seek support only from well established big name software
companies. They displayed no interest in working with small third party
organizations such as ours or other user groups. They wanted to
maintain a closed system and in the end it would doom the ADAM.
In spite of all these problems, many outsiders
saw the ADAM as a way to make money. A large number of publishers had
authors busily writing books on the ADAM. Unfortunately, some of these
authors were using ADAMs with software that was different from that
which was shipped or was still buggy. As a result a number of books
were published that included programs that would not run on the
Undaunted Coleco continued to announce new
products for the ADAM. The next issue will cover many of these
developments and the rest of the story. The remainder of this issue
includes some of the items that Coleco listed in its catalog at the
start of 1984. You will note that the disk drive picture, although
listed as 5 1/4", actually shows a picture of the originally planned 3
1/2" drive. The external modem and other never shipped products are
also listed. I hope you have enjoyed this initial look back and I am
looking forward to concluding the story next time.
Proposed and Existing ADAM Products
ADAMLink™ 1200 Direct Connect Modem
An advanced 1200/300 baud full duplex modem at
an unheard-of low price point! ADAMLink™ 1200 has its own built-in
microprocessor. It connects right in to ADAM-Net™ and it couples
directly to the phone line, too. No additional interface is necessary
and there are no clumsy receiver cups.
The ADAMLink™ Telecommunications software
package is included, which incorporates advanced features that will
make the Modem easier to use, such as automatic dialing and 1200/300
baud speed selection. Electronic banking can be handled efficiently and
electronic mail sent at high speed. With the Modem, ADAM™ also becomes
a terminal to access information services such as CompuServe, The
Source, Dow Jones and ADAM™ On-Line, a new information service directed
specifically at ADAM™ users. The package also includes a free sampling
of CompuServe and ADAM™ On-Line. #7818
ADAM™ 5 1/4" Disk Drive Module
A double density disk drive for those who
prefer the disk storage medium. This state of the art accessory allows
data storage of up to 360K bytes or characters on readily available 5
1/4" floppy disks. Information retrieval is swift and efficient, making
it ideal for applications requiring frequent disk access. Most ADAM™
software will be available on 5 1/4" disks as well as the standard
digital data packs. The SW Disk Drive will work with all ADAM™
software, including SmartWRITER™ word processing and CP/M®-based
programs. The Disk Drive Module fits easily into the Memory Console and
can be used in conjunction with the Digital Data Drive. And whenever
the user is ready, adding a second Disk Drive will be easy.
CP/M* is a registered trademark of Digital Research, Inc. #7817
ADAM™ Tractor Feed for SmartWRITER™ Printer
Designed especially for ADAM™! Snaps on to the
SmartWRITER™ printer to securely hold continuous-feed fanfold paper in
any width up to 9 1/2". This will make using the printer even quicker
and more convenient, since paper will no longer have to be loaded one
page at a time. #7823
SmartWRITER™ WORD PROCESSING Included with ADAM™ Family Computer
The feature that sets ADAM™ apart from every
other home computer—a built-in word processing program that's easy to
learn and helps produce letter-perfect documents every time.
SmartWRITER™ word processing lets ADAM™ do almost everything that
expensive office word processing systems do. "Insert," "delete,"
"move," "search," "search and replace," even copy words, sentences, or
paragraphs. The user can also underline text, change margins and fix
any typographical errors right on the screen, before printing. Even
such functions as super- or sub-scripting and automatic page numbering
can be handled quickly and efficiently. Large amounts of text can be
edited quickly by "highlighting." The versatile Smart Keys help
simplify everything with clear onscreen "messages" and "labels" to
guide the user every step of the way.
The wordbase that integrates with all ADAM™
"Smart" Software! It puts a pre-programmed lexicon of thousands of
words right at the user's fingertips! And what's more, because this
huge word list is electronically incorporated into the system, it can
be accessed many times faster than other similar programs. It can also
be used with other ADAM™ educational and information data programs to
dramatically increase their power. SPELLING CHECKER scans a document in
a flash, and highlights misspelled words! Recommended for ages 6-Adult.
SmartPICTURE PROCESSOR™ will make working with
graphics as easy and efficient as SmartWRITER™ makes working with text.
It's an easy-to-use, comprehensive electronic art kit. Whether child,
artist, or video game designer, SmartPICTURE PROCESSOR™ offers
challenge and fun for all, with its multiple color and "brush" options.
Its unique Smart Frame and Smart Magnet features and three-dimensional
effects let the user do things they could never attempt with a pen and
paper, such as rotate dimensional objects, automatically color them in,
move them or copy them...even store, recall and edit pictures or graphs
that they've drawn onscreen! Pre-defined shapes can be employed, or the
user can draw freehand.
SmartPICTURE PROCESSOR™ is a program that can
be many things to many people. For children, it's an electronic arts
activity center. The only limit is the user's imagination! Recommended
for age 5-Adult. #7812 Digital Data Pack/#9618 5 1/4" Disk
Return to Top
FOR JUST $11.95
Greeting Card Announcements (Fan Folded-Tractor Fed).
Spruce up your Business, Social, Personal Messages.
*Special Sampler Pre-Pack Offer. 50 Cards-40 Envelopes Only $11.95.
5 1/4" DISKS
(SS,DD 25/$13.25-10/$6.40) or (DS,DD 25/$15)
3 1/2" DISKS (SS,DD 25/$37.50-10/$16.50)
Paper T/F-F/F White 9 1/2"x11", 20lb
Labels T/F-F/F (Address)..............1000/$5.95
Labels T/F-F/F (Data Pack and/or Cassette Tape...100/$5.95
(Adam)...........................1/$3.95 - 10/$34.50
RIBBON CART.....1/$5.50 - 3/$15.00
DAISY WHEEL (Adam) - Italic, Script, Elite, etc. 1/$5.50
ADAM COVERS - Set with logo for system......$18.95
ADAM DISK COVER - To match above......$7.99
TRACTOR FEED for Adam printer.....$68.95
PRINTER STAND - Front on/off switch......$16.95
POWER PACK - To separate printer/use CPU alone.....$29.95
PACK COPY - Backup SmartBASIC, etc......$29.95
BLACK GOLD -
Look for oil. Survey-profits-fun.....$19.95
- Text adventure.....$14.95
SERIAL/PARALLEL INTERFACE UNIT - This opens a whole new world for the
Adam owner. Now you can connect a dot matrix hi/speed printer/use
standard modem (300-1200 baud). Comes w/software used with SmartBASIC
or CP/M etc. Serial or Parallel......$139.95
SPEECH SYNTHESIZER UNIT - SUPER TALK - Now add VOICE capabilities to
Adam. Software included. $99.95
Disk Holder - Holds up to 50 disks-anti static.....$15.95
Monitor/TV Stand-360 rotation, up to 12.5 angle.....$22.95
Adam Monitor Cable.....$10.95
Star Micronics NX-10 Printer.....$289.95
Star Micronics NX-10 Ribbon....$6.95
PACKCOPY - Backup SmartBASIC, etc. .....$29.95
DIABLO - Mind Challenge - Graphic.....$19.95
SmartBASIC - Data Pack or Disk.....$21.95
TO ADAM - Disk or DP.....$17.95
Design & Printing System (DP)..........$20.95
MICROWORKS (DP) - 5 programs that work alone or together (1. Word
processor/text editor 2. Database 3. Spreadsheet 4. Picture editor 5.
PROOFREADER, Spell Checker (DP) shipping June.....call$
Speeds up loading programs...........$25.95
PRO-GOLF CHAMP (DP/D) - Realistic graphic game... $14.95
DEMONS & DRAGONS (DP/D) role-playing fantasy.....$19.95
QUEST FOR QUINTANA ROO (DP) Great all graphic game made for
S&H - $2.50 US $4.50
CN US $'s only
We stock what we sell for FAST DELIVERY.
M.W. RUTH CO., Dept. S26
510 Rhode Island Ave.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
#1 ADAM USERS' GROUP
By joining our group
you will receive our newsletter. Advance updating, evaluations on
programs and hardware. Technical information, problem solving, and be
entitled to share in our program exchange. Plus much more. Send $15.00
for membership to:
#1 ADAM USERS' GROUP
P.O. Box 3761
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
VISA/MASTER ADD $1
The Public Domain version of the
FORTH 83 language is now available for the ADAM. This version has been
made available to ECN subscribers by Thomas Gilmore who will also be
contributing a series of articles on the language. A start-up set is
available now and an advanced set, organized to complement the start-up
set will be available later. The start-up set is available on two disks
for $7 or two data packs for $10. These may be ordered directly from
ECN and are designated CP/M public domain volume 12. This set requires
that you have ADAM's CP/M 2.2. Send your order along with a check or
money order for the appropriate amount to:
Rt. 2, Box 211, Scrivner Rd.
Russellville, MO 65074
Be sure to indicate whether you want disk or data