Computer — Valued Treasure or Overvalued Pleasure

I’m starting a new blog today on another favorite topic–Computers–Love them or leave them.

I admit it, I’m a computer nerd. During my entire career I worked in main-frame computer related fields. Then the personal computers began to appear:

  • The TRS-80
  • Altair
  • Macintosh
  • IBM PC
  • Commodore 64

I wanted one badly; I didn’t have a good reason other than it was a breakthrough in technology and I love technology. Several of my friends were buying various models. They were just too expensive, at least for me (Macintosh Plus $2599, IBM PCs’ in the same price range).

Then a poor decision by Coleco (yes the same company that made Cabbage Patch Dolls) made it possible for me to purchase my first computer.

Coleco had introduced a very innovative computer called the Adam, priced at a comparatively reasonable price of $600. Unfortunately some of the early models had problems. Coleco either was too slow to react or didn’t recognize the seriousness of the situation. The public turned against Coleco and branded the Adam unreliable. Coleco dumped their entire inventory to the discount stores. I was able to purchase my system including Motorola RGB monitor for $350, even I could afford that.


What made the Adam innovative:

  • Equipped with a letter quality daisy wheel printer
  • Used TV as a monitor or optional RGB monitor
  • Two tape drives with digital search capability
  • 80K Ram
  • 3 expansion slots
  • Cartridge slot that accepted all Coleco game cartridges
  • Capable of operating under CP/M OS which would run Wordstar, Lotus, dBase

One of my favorite features about the Adam was that it powered up in word-processing mode. There was no wait for an OS to load and then wait for an application to load. Just turn it on and start working.

I liked this computer so much that in later years I purchased additional Adam units for anywhere from $50 to $100. I wanted to share my good fortune with all of my friends and proliferate the wonders of the Adam.

When Coleco went bankrupt and withdrew all technical support, User support groups popped up all over the world. Some of the more active groups in addition to those in the US were located in England and Canada. I was the editor of the newsletter for the St. Louis Adam Users Group or (SLAUG).

Annual conventions were held to socialize and share knowledge. Unbelievably, twenty years later these conventions are still taking place.

I hope I didn’t bore you but after twenty-five years I’m still passionate about my first computer, the Coleco Adam.

How about all of you readers, what were your first computers?

Are you as emotional as I am?


12 thoughts on “Computer — Valued Treasure or Overvalued Pleasure

  1. Well Don, aren’t we glad computers have come a long way from where they used to be. No longer taking up a whole floor of space. Just love my laptop. But I can’t say that I feel the passion that you do about it. But we certainly can’t live without them, that’s for sure. Thank you Don for sharing what obviously has been an important part of your life. 🙂

  2. It is so amazing to me how far computers have come and how quickly. I remember floppy disks well! When I was in the 8th grade our school had a computer lab and the only things we ever did on the computers was play Oregon Trail and use the word processor…and now? wow.
    Thanks for taking us on a trip down computer memory lane, Donald!

  3. I was definitely a slow starter out of the computer gate. When I was in high school computers weren’t even in the lingo! The first time I ever laid fingers to the keyboard was a big clunky computer that hubby brought home from work when his company was upgrading. I stuck with my typewriter simply because I hated waiting for the BIG BEAST to boot-up. Even so, the hardest thing for me has been to *trust* electronic devices with my priceless writing work (okay, so priceless only to me, but still …). Seriously, when was the last time you heard of a yellow tablet “crashing?” Well, it took me a very long time to love the computer, but like so many patient courtships, it’s now true love!

    Thanks Don. Great post!

    • Barbara…one word: Carbonite. No more worries about your priceless work. I think it’s about $59/year. What could be better? Let the machines crash if they must, and most will eventually, but your writing jewels are forever safe!

  4. Wait, I think I had one of these. I know I had the letter quality daisy wheel printer, the used TV monitor, and the 80K of Ram. Just not sure if the computer was a Coleco Adam. It’s hard to believe they’ve come so far in such a short amount of time.

  5. I enjoyed this post, Don! You brought back memories of when I first made the jump into computers. They were having a non-credited class at one of the local community colleges. I was nervous…this was new and strange. The first thing we were supposed to do was insert our floppy disk into the hard drive. Everyone did, including me. My computer wouldn’t boot up. I raised my hand. The instructor came around and checked. He bent down and whispered to me, “Jodi, you slipped the disk in between the monitor and the CPU. It has to go in the little slot on the front of the CPU.” My face still burns at that recollection, and I still make dorky mistakes like that. Love computers, and loved this!

  6. Jodi, I can top that one. Iwas teaching computer classes at one NFP locations. The classes were designed to aid the technically challenged learn enough skills to re-enter the workplace. I told the class to move the mouse to the upper right corner of the screen. As I walked around the classroom I noticed one gentleman holding the mouse in his hand and pressing it tightly against the upper right corner of the screen. I softly laughed and apologized for not being more specific. ROFL

  7. Don,

    Great seeing your name after all these years and reading some of your Adam memories! I was one of the early STLAUG guys– well, more precisely, the kid in the group lol- and still remember you, Barry, Jim, Father Al, and a few others! Hope things are well!

    Steve Murphy

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