|Manufacturer||Coleco Industries, Inc.|
|Type||Home video game console|
|Units sold||over 2 million (1982-83) |
|Controller input||Joystick/Numeric Keypad|
Super Action Controller
|Best-selling game||Donkey Kong (pack-in)|
|Predecessor||Telstar series (1978)|
The ColecoVision is Coleco Industries' second-generation home video-game console that was released in August 1982. The ColecoVision offered a closer experience to more powerful arcade game systems compared to competitors such as the Atari 2600, along with the means to expand the system's basic hardware.
The initial catalog of twelve games included Nintendo's Donkey Kong as the pack-in cartridge, Sega's graphically impressive Zaxxon, and some lesser known arcade titles that found a larger audience on the console, such as Lady Bug, Cosmic Avenger, and Venture. Approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984.
The ColecoVision was discontinued in 1985 when Coleco withdrew from the video game market.
By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold more than 500,000 units, in part on the strength of its bundled game. The ColecoVision's main competitor was the less commercially successful Atari 5200 which had been based on the older Atari 400/800 computer.
The ColecoVision was distributed by CBS Electronics outside of North America, and was branded the CBS ColecoVision. In Europe the console was released in July 1983, nearly one year after the North American release.
Over the next 18 months, the Coleco company ramped down its video game division, ultimately withdrawing from the video game market by the end of the summer of 1985. The ColecoVision was officially discontinued by October 1985. Total sales of the ColecoVision are uncertain but were ultimately in excess of 2 million units, due to the console continuing to sell modestly up until its discontinuation the following year.The video game crash of 1983 has been cited as the main cause of the ColecoVision's being discontinued less than three years after its launch.
In 1983 Spectravideo announced the SV-603 ColecoVision Video Game Adapter for its SV-318 computer. The company stated that the $70 product allowed users to "enjoy the entire library of exciting ColecoVision video-game cartridges".
The main console unit consists of a 14×8×2-inch rectangular plastic case that houses the motherboard, with a cartridge slot on the right side and connectors for the external power supply and RF jack at the rear. The controllers connect into plugs in a recessed area on the top of the unit.
The design of the controllers is similar to that of Mattel's Intellivision--the controller is rectangular and consists of a numeric keypad and a set of side buttons. In place of the circular control disc below the keypad, the Coleco controller has a short, 1.5-inch joystick. The keypad is designed to accept a thin plastic overlay that maps the keys for a particular game. Each ColecoVision console shipped with two controllers.
All first-party cartridges and most third-party software titles feature a 12-second pause before presenting the game select screen. This delay results from an intentional loop in the console's BIOS to enable on-screen display of the ColecoVision brand. Companies like Parker Brothers, Activision, and Micro Fun bypassed this loop, which necessitated embedding portions of the BIOS outside the delay loop, further reducing storage available to actual game programming.
From its introduction, Coleco touted the ColecoVision's hardware expandability by highlighting the Expansion Module Interface on the front of the unit. These hardware expansion modules and accessories were sold separately.
Expansion Module #3 was originally the Super Game Module. It was advertised for an August 1983 release but was ultimately cancelled and replaced with the Adam computer expansion. The Super Game Module added a tape drive known as the Exatron Stringy Floppy with 128KB capacity, and the additional RAM, said to be 30KB, to load and execute programs from tape. Games could be distributed on tiny tapes, called wafers, and be much larger than the 16KB or 32KB ROM cartridges of the day. Super Donkey Kong, with all screens and animations, Super Donkey Kong Jr, and Super Smurf Rescue were demonstrated with the Super Game Module. The Adam computer expansion with its 256KB tape drive and 64KB RAM fulfilled the specifications promised by the Super Game Module.
In December 2012 Opcode Games released their own expansion, also named the Super Game Module. Opcode's Super Game Module increases the ColecoVision RAM memory from 16KB to 32KB and adds four additional sound channels. This expansion brings the Colecovision very close to the MSX architecture standard, allowing MSX software to be more easily ported to the Colecovision.
During the creation of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the ColecoVision was a huge influence. Takao Sawano, chief manager of the project, brought a ColecoVision home to his family, who were impressed by the system's capability to produce smooth graphics at the time, which contrasted with the flickering commonly seen on Atari 2600 games. Masayuki Uemura, head of Famicom development, stated that the ColecoVision set the bar that influenced how he would approach the creation of the Famicom.
The year's sales of 1.5 million ColecoVision units brought the installed base to over 2 million units worldwide.
Most of 1982's action was in the second half, when Coleco shipped 550,000 ColecoVision game machines--which sell for $169 to $189--booking orders for nearly that many more.
Arnold C. Greenberg, Coleco's president and chief executive, said more than 500,000 ColecoVision players were shipped during the first quarter, nearly equaling the number shipped in all of 1982.
Potential Colecovision buyers have also apparently been attracted by Coleco's licensing agreement with Nintendo Inc., the Japanese creator of Donkey Kong, a current arcade hit, and Universal City Studios Inc. One Donkey Kong cartridge comes with each Colecovision unit.
In recent weeks, two particularly hot-selling systems have emerged - the Atari 5200 and ColecoVision. Both are described as powerful 'third wave' machines, the Cadillacs of game systems, and priced accordingly at close to $200...[T]hey are sure to snatch most of the Christmas market.
As for game hardware, many experts said that Atari's...5200 or Coleco's Colecovision would corner the high end.
Since its introduction last fall, Colecovision has sold about 1.4 million units...Of that total, about 900,000 were sold this year, compared with 800,000 units by Atari and 300,000 by Mattel.
'First quarter sales of ColecoVision were substantial, although much less that [sic] those for the year ago quarter,' Greenberg said in a prepared statement. He said the company has sold 2 million ColecoVision games since its introduction in 1982.
Coleco Industries is assessing its continuing commitment to the video game business...Arnold C. Greenberg, the chief executive, said no timetable had been set for a decision on continuing or dropping the Colecovision products or on whether the software for the games would continue to be produced if hardware production was discontinued.
Coleco Industries Inc. of West Hartford, Conn., is considering withdrawal from the video game business in both hardware and software.
Thursday, Coleco said the entire inventory of its troubled Adam personal computer has been sold, along with much of its Colecovision inventory. The company's chairman, Arnold Greenberg, said Coleco expects no more charges against earnings from the two discontinued products.
Sales in the Consumer Electronics segment were $98.6 million in 1984
The decline in sales of Consumer Electronics was primarily due to reduced sales of ColecoVision products. The increase in shipments of the ADAM Family Computer System in 1984 was largely offset by provisions for price reductions and returns recorded in the last half of the year.
the total of ColecoVision inventory and accounts receivable was $40.5 million at December 31, 1984. During 1985 it is expected that accounts receivable will be converted to cash and the balance of ColecoVision inventory sold.
Consumer Electronics net sales of $56.2 million consisted principally of the ADAM Family Computer and ColecoVision video game systems, accessories and software.
Coleco is now debating whether to withdraw from electronics altogether. Colecovision still sells, but it is a shadow of its former self.