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Was the Coleco ADAM printer really that bad?


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I had the Adam when it came out and used it for several years, writing term papers, newsletters, etc.  The print quality was better than the 9 pin dot matrix printers common to inexpensive computers. The downside (aside from the truly idiotic decision to make it the power supply) was that it was slow and loud. My mom asked that I try not to print after everyone went to bed because you could hear it throughout the house--and this was a fairly large 5br 4500 sqft house!


Still, I never had a problem with my Adam and still have it to this day. I might have been one of the lucky ones.



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Yes, it was loud...but I loved it all the same. It was cool to have a letter quality printer. I used it frequently for all kinds of things - letters, mailing labels, printing text files off disks. A lot of people complained about its loudness and slow speed, but seriously...it was part of the frickin' system and I didn't care about its shortcomings!!!

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To echo everyone’s else feelings:


- Yes, it wasn’t the best decision to place the system power supply in the printer, but I understand the money saving decision. Ideally, the printer would have been a separate purchase from the computer… give potential purchasers options instead of being forced to buy an all in one solution although this would have changed Coleco’s marketing idea for the ADAM. It also would have been financially easier for a lot of people to piece together a system as the need arose instead of one big purchase.


- The printer is loud, but most lower end daisy wheel printers of this era were loud… just not as loud due to further cost savings by Coleco to not insulate it better.


- Again, compared to other lower end daisy wheel printers of the era, it was a little slower, but again due to cost savings from bundling an all in one system.


IF the Printer would have been a separate purchase, then obviously the computer power supply would have been separate. I would also have to think that the construction and speed of the printer would of had to be improved to sell as a separate product.


With all that said, I used the Printer a lot for school work, so I was glad to have it and the ADAM was my first computer (only minimal experience with others in High School), so I really didn’t know any better at the time.

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11 hours ago, Frozone212 said:

This question is not about the computer, I am asking about the printer. regardless of the boneheaded decision to make the printer the power supply, how well did it actually function? was it really that loud?


I look forward to your stories

As I recall, at the time it was advertised as an educational "word processing" home solution. 

'Hey everyone, buy this for your kids, and they can use it to type up their papers for school while having fun learning about computers and oh yeah, also playing some videogames"...

I know one guy who had one back in the early 80s, using that argument to convince his parents to pay for it.

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  • 1 year later...
On 1/7/2023 at 1:35 AM, jblenkle said:

Yes, it was loud...but I loved it all the same.

yea i agree.. i never had this as a kid (though I have one now) however, there's just something today hearing that clacking of something mechanical thwapping the paper.. seeing it come to life..  much like how i loved typing things on my dad's electric typewriter..  or even an older mechanical one we had when I was a kid..   what marvels of engineering and digital wizardry! :) 

Edited by 8bitwidgets.com
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At my house we had one of the early Adams and the print head was misaligned.  So the characters only got half printed.  Later on, Coleco included an instruction sheet on how to take a PLIERS(!) and bend the hammer mechanism around until the printing looked good.  Crazy stuff!  Of course, ours didn't come with this instruction sheet, so we had no idea about any of this.  So ours never worked right.  The later redesigned ones fixed this issue, but any early adopters like us were stuck.  So yea, THEY REALLY WERE THAT BAD (at least the early ones)!


Aside from that, my main issue with it was that it was a "required purchase" with the system.  As a kid, I wanted a dot matrix printer instead so that I could print out cool stuff like drawings / pictures / banners using something like The Print Shop that the Apple II's at my school could do.  Printing out "term papers" wasn't any "fun"....

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I never had a problem with the printer back in 84 when I received my first ADAM.
I never had the any issues with the data drives or packs either.


As far as the printer goes I used it to print out the hall of fame in Buck Rogers and Zaxxon, that was about it.
I programed a few things like a cartridge copier and played games.


A friend of mine graduated to the Amiga and gave me his ADAM and Disk Drive.
I ended up throwing everything except the software and disk drive before I went into the Army.

After that, my next computer was also an Amiga 500, then a 2000.
He ended up giving me his A3000 while I bought a broken A4000 and A1200 which I ended up fixing.


Now everyone just emulates everything on a PC.


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My two cents as to what mistakes were made:


- Quality control on the early units was HORRIBLE and it earned itself a bad reputation pretty much immediately, that as much as anything sank it.

- As already said putting the power supply in the printer was a really bad idea, that thing was like a boat anchor, was a pain to send out to get fixed and if it failed it took everything else with it.

- They should have made the printer optional and allowed for selling just the console for less. Not everyone cared whether they could print or not and forcing them pay a lot of extra $ for something bulky and unwanted was a deal breaker for a lot of people. Was the printer really that terrible? No other than being extremely loud, but not everybody needed it. 

- Basic should have been built into the system instead of Adam Writer, which at best should have been an included cartridge or tape. If you really needed to you could always type on an old typewriter which is really all the printer was, but you can only program on a computer. 

- They should have been more open to 3rd party software/game providers, they limited themselves badly by not being so and because of that little software became available, at least compared to most other computers.


I think it was decent otherwise and it's a pity it never caught on, it had enough power and expandibility to have competed with the others but they really shot themselves in the feet with the problems mentioned. Someone ought to give the Adam the "Aquarius+" treatment, in other words make a more powerful Z80 based modernization of the original with network, expanded memory, SD storage while still being 100% backwards compatible. 


Edited by Tornadoboy
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