Back To Homebrews

"Quartex" tells some memories he had as a former employee of Coleco Industries.

For no particular reason I found myself tonight thinking back to my days working at Coleco, on the ADAM computer...
And thanks to the wonders of Google, I referenced "Cabbage Patch Kids 128k Park Adventure", & found myself here.

  I worked a number of different jobs at Coleco, in a few different buildings, but all ADAM related.
The whole toy manufacturer making a computer thing really showed internally. It was a crazy place to work for.

 At one time I worked as a non-union quality control person on a few ADAM assembly lines.
Most all jobs at Coleco were union, except for higher-ups in management and a handful in Q.C.. (You know, the whole "union can't oversee union work thing.) 

 While working in their Mayfield building, I discovered if I carried a clipboard and walked meaningfully, I could go almost anywhere unquestioned.
No union person would ask a non-union what he/she was up to & that just left the rare other non-union person, who never questioned me & my clipboard.
So, I'd regularly go into one of the R&D rooms where a lot of software testing was done. I'd explore for tapes/carts looked new/different/interesting/whatever.

If I found something, I'd bring it back to my station & see what it was.
If it was interesting, I'd make a copy on DDP & return it.
(I had the in-house Rev. 22 cartridge, which was used to copy DDP's & Carts to DDP). 

Most test carts were just ZIF-socketed eproms on a pc board, no case.
On one occasion a cartridge I came across was what's now know as the "Cabbage Patch Kids 128k Park Adventure".

 The only identification for what the cartridge might be was a sticker that had "CPK" written on it.
I loaded it up & noticed right away the difference in that game vs. the release version of Cabbage Patch Kids Adventure in the Park, so I dumped a copy to DDP.

What caught my attention most though was that the eprom used on this cartridge was a 27128.
A way bigger eprom than would be needed to store this game. Eproms were expensive back then, & Coleco treated them like gold -erasable or not.

If one needed a blank eprom & requested it through a formal/company route, size definitely mattered.
I remember an engineering friend telling me how he'd spend a half hour or more,
digging through old carts he could erase rather than have to justify to the powers-that-be he needed an eprom of any large capacity

One certainly would not want to have been caught wasting a large capacity 27128 on a game that would fit on a chip less than half that capacity.

 Odd or not, that's the way they were back then, so the 27128 really stuck out to me.

The release version of C.P.K. had been out for a good while, and we know they never released an updated version.
If I had to guess, the version I found was likely a pre-release/early version that for some reason never made it to production.

The software R&D room I would regularly visit was used for a variety of ADAM software related tasks.
I know a lot of the in-house test programs were developed in there.
Also, a good deal of lot-testing carts & DDP's that were ready for packaging was done there.
It wasn't the most organized looking area, the C.P.K. version I found was just laying around in a pile of assorted cartridges.

After I found it & realized it was a different version, I kept an eye open for other different versions of existing games.
The only thing similar I ever found though was a slightly different version of Super Subroc.
A red 'X' was drawn over lives/ships you lost, instead of them vanishing as you died.
And the octopus looking ship was drawn slightly different & with different colors.

 I had a side-business selling ADAM hardware & such.
I could get things form the company store (disk drives, memory cards, etc) that were near impossible to find retail or mail-order, and buy them at near cost.
I Had other great sources too, like the local dump, where Coleco tossed TONS of ADAM stuff, but that's a whole other story -heh.

For whatever reason, burning games & such to eprom seemed very common in the buildings I worked in, far more common than DDP's.
Possibly 'speed' was a reason? When parts of the ADAM were being tested, a test cartridge was primarily used (as compared to a DDP).
It was much faster & more reliable to boot from rom, especially on an assembly line where speed is important.

I remember a special room where gang-burning was done, but it was way more common to use an ADAM Eprom Burner and make cartridge copies than,
it was to see someone make a tape-to-tape copy of something.
Come to think of it, it was kind of unusual to see an in-house ADAM with dual DDP drives at all.

Coleco had a number of cool in-house items, I still wonder why some never saw production.
Many in-house ADAM computers had 128k memory expanders in them, and they were in use long before any 3rd party company produced them.

The ADAM Eprom programmer was great, I still have one here somewhere.
(Though I understand why this was never a commercial product.)
It connects to the expansion bus, It's about 2x the size of an Auto-Dialer, and uses software written in CP/M 2.2. It's almost entirely done in wire-wrap.

Anyway, through that business I'd developed a small network of friends around the country with our common interest in ADAM.

I decided to try a little experiment using them, & see how far this new version of the Cabbage Patch Kids game might travel.
(and back then, even a BBS was rare, so travel mostly meant copies being made & mailed.

The game originally loaded up with EXACTLY the same title screen as the release version of the C.P.K. game.
I changed it to "128k Park Adventure" in reference to the 27128 eprom.
Sometimes when I gave friends in-house type things, it was under the condition that they not copy it for others.

In this case, I told them they could share it if they wanted.
Absolutely no one knew of the title change but me.
I knew the name would add to the excitement as a "new release" item, and with absolutely no one knowing I changed the name, no one would feel inclined to change it to anything else.
I'd be able to see if & how much it spread.
My business was mail-order, & I'd occasionally ask people who I knew shared/copied stuff if they'd heard of it or had it.
That was my non-scientific way of monitoring it spread.

 I was surprised back then to find it moved around quick, especially after mail-order places started selling it.

The business I had was called 'The ADAM Connection'. (If I recall right, there was more than one 'Adam Connection')
While I sold a good deal of stuff to individuals, I typically sold in bulk to MW Ruth & Alpha-1. (They were both major buyers of ADAM disk drives, and I couldn't get enough of 'em.

When dealing with MW Ruth, I did business under the name 'Scott Software'.
Jay Forman didn't like me/my business because I wouldn't sell hardware to them exclusively, he especially didn't like me selling to Alpha-1.
So, he flat-out wouldn't do business with me or my company.

He had one of the larger ADAM mail order businesses, and paid good money for disk drives, memory expanders & the like, and it was a distribution house I needed,
because few others could handle the amount of hardware I'd get in.
I met with Jay a few times at his house in New Jersey, and used a fake name Tom Scott, after the sax player, so I could sell to & through him.
(No Google or Internet back then, so no practical way for him to know that wasn't my name.)
Ahh .. those were the days!

And that was pretty much it.
It was just one of many things I'd found over time, & I'd forgot about it 'till now. 

 Which I guess brings me to tonight.
I'm still surprised I was able to locate an old MW Ruth catalog, It was quite nostalgic looking back through that.

Figured since I'd found this thread, I'd come full-circle & tell how it came to be named & released.

 One more small story in the ADAM history book.


Webpage : xxxxxxx
To get in touch with Quartex, try this: e-mail.