Consoles Sold: 6 Million+
Original Retail Price: $175 ($415.47 including inflation)
The company Coleco was founded in Connecticut in 1932 originally as a manufacturer of leather supplies and as a shoemaker. Eventually Coleco would expand their business model to include making plastics and manufacturing kiddie pools. Sales had reached over $1 million for Coleco by 1960, and in 1962 Coleco had decided to sell off their leather goods devision and take the company public. Pool sales were seasonal so Coleco again decided to broaden their business model to include items such as table top hockey games, doll carriages, and even snowmobiles and dirt bikes. By the late 1970’s Coleco was unstable and almost went under in 1978.
Coleco first got their feet wet into the video game market with the introduction of the Coleco Telestar console. The Coleco Telestar was basically a Pong clone and sales started off strong initially, however due to production problems, Coleco would eventually lose $22.3 million through the sales of the Telestar systems. Coleco did however have a very strong video game handheld devision which helped offset most of their loses.
In 1982 Atari and Mattel were going head to head in the home video game market. Coleco released the ColecoVision for $175 USD in August of 1982 to join the video game console battle. The ColecoVision was superior to both the Atari 2600 and the Mattel Intellivision when it came to both graphics and sound. Coleco had also partnered up with Nintendo to include the arcade hit Donkey Kong as a pack in game for the console. This lead to immediate success for the ColecoVision by selling the first one million consoles right away. By 1983 Coleco was beating both Atari and Mattel in the home video game market.
The ColecoVision wasn’t only superior with better graphics and sound, but it also had more expandability. Coleco had released the Expansion Module #1 which enabled the ColecoVision to play Atari 2600 games as well. Atari sued Coleco but was unsuccessful because the module was produced using standard parts. Coleco also released a stand alone Atari 2600 clone console called the Gemini.
Even though Coleco was dominating the home video game market, the home computer market was starting to grow. Coleco saw the home computer market as a way to capitalize even more, so in June of 1983 Coleco decided to enter the home computer market by releasing the ADAM computer. The ADAM computer was very pricey at a retail prices of $725 ($1,667.67 today), and featured a tape recorder, keyboard, printer, and the ability to play all ColecoVision games. The ADAM computer unfortunately was buggy and didn’t sell well at all, leading to Coleco losing millions of dollars. With a combination of poor ADAM computer sales, and the video game crash, Coleco decided to sell the rights to the ColecoVision to Britain-based company Telegames. Telegames would completely redesign the ColecoVision and rebranded it as the DINA 2-in-1. The DINA 2-in-1 was primarily available through mail order through the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The ColecoVision is a large rectangular black box with a compartment on the left where two removable controllers can plug into and be stored. The cartridge slot is located on the right with a on/off power switch to the left of it, and a reset button to the right of it. There is also an area in the front right of the console where the expansion modules can plug into. The ColecoVision has a large brick AC adapter that plugs in the back, and is connected to the TV through an RF connection.
The ColecoVision controller is similar to the Intellivision controller. It features a twelve button numeric keyboard, and also similar to the Intellivision controller, it can use laminated overlays that are inserted in the controller for particular games. There are two action buttons on each side of the controller, and one large sixteen direction nob that can be used as a joystick.
Coleco also released a Super Action Controller which resembles a boxing glove. It has a large joystick with twelve numeric buttons at the very top, and four colored action buttons that the player can squeeze with the other hand.
Other controllers Coleco released were a roller controller, and a Expansion Module #2 steering wheel.
In total 145 game titles were released for the ColecoVision. Most of these games were ports from popular arcade ports at the time. This was one of the reasons that the ColecoVision was so successful.
Some top games for the ColecoVision include:
- Donkey Kong
- Burger Time
- Mr. Do!
- Pepper II
- Space Invaders Collection
I have very fond memories of the playing the ColecoVision growing up as a kid. It was my first console I remember playing at home, and the graphics at the time were amazing. It’s too bad that Coleco decided to enter the home computer market, because I feel that if they hadn’t done so, they would have better survived the video game crash.
- Coleco had also produced the very successful Cabbage Patch Kids line of toys.
- Many home brew games are still being produced for the ColecoVision today.
- Shows such as South Park, Family Guy, and Everybody Hates Chris all reference the ColecoVision.
- The DINA 2-in-1 could also support Sega SG-1000 games as well.
- The name “Coleco” is a contraction of COnneticut LEather Company.
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