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Background

In August 1982, Coleco released the ColecoVision, a new $175 videogame system with graphics and sound superior to both the 2600

and the Intellivision. What really "made" the ColecoVision, however, was its pack-in game: the mega-popular Donkey Kong.

Coleco (a contraction of COnneticut LEather COmpany) was founded in 1932 and originally sold leather supplies to shoemakers. They eventually got into leather craft kits (since Davy Crockett and Howdy Doody were popular back then), and they sold pretty well. Later, Coleco got into plastics and started manufacturing kiddie pools. By 1960, pool sales had reached over one million dollars a year. In 1962 the leather goods division was sold, and Coleco went public. Coleco continued expanding its swimming pool business and by the late 1960s it was the world's largest manufacturer of above-ground swimming pools. Since swimming pools were obviously seasonal, the company looked into other areas to invest. Some things worked (doll carriages and table top hockey games), others (snowmobiles and dirt bikes) didn't. Earnings throughout the 70's were unstable and the company almost went under in 1978.

Coleco got into the videogame business with the Telstar Arcade (which was basically a Pong clone) in 1976. The system started out well, but production problems, a dock strike, and the move towards more flexible systems caused Coleco to lose $22.3 million. This was somewhat offset by sales of hand-held videogames, of which Coleco sold about $20 million dollars worth.

In 1982, while Atari and Mattel were busy trashing each other's products, Coleco released the superior ColecoVision with Donkey Kong as the pack-in. It was an immediate success. After untangling itself from a few legal snags (Coleco and Nintendo were threatened with lawsuits from Universal Studios who claimed Donkey Kong was an infringement of King Kong), Coleco sold out its first one million systems almost immediately. By 1983 the ColecoVision was beating out both Atari and Mattel in sales.

The ColecoVision not only had better graphics and sound than its competitors, but it also had more expandability. Accessories included a steering wheel (with gas pedal) and a 2600 adapter that let you play Atari 2600 games on your ColecoVision. Atari sued Coleco over the adapter, but Coleco won (later, Coleco sold its own standalone Atari clone, the Gemini). Most Coleco games were solid arcade ports, usually almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and quickly became the hardcore videogamers' system of choice.

It's a little known fact that the Colecovision was actually a scaled down version of the MSX, a home computer that was very popular overseas, especially in Japan.

ColecoVision's were marketed in Europe by CBS Electronics and sold under the CBS name.

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The systems I own

Coleco Telstar, Model 6040, Released 1976

Coleco Telstar Classic, Model 6041, Released in 1976

Tabletop Pac-Man game, Released in 1982

Colecovision, Released 1982

Click here to see my cartridge collection.

 

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Current Projects

None at this time.

 

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Favorite Links

None at this time

 

 

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Last Revised: December 28, 1999

  This page had been reviewed 1772 since Dec. 28, 1999