ADAM CP/M Software… On A Cartridge?!

William “Milli” Hicks posted a very interesting video on his 8-bit Milli YouTube channel yesterday. Using a disassembly of ADAM’s CP/M boot loader code he learned that it contains a routine which automatically copies files located on a cartridge over to the RAM disk! This is a very cool undocumented feature. Why was this code in there? Did Coleco have plans to utilize this capability and market CP/M cartridges? Nobody knows for sure! It’s yet another little ADAM gem that makes me wonder what we might’ve seen had things turned out differently for Coleco and ADAM.


As you can see in the video Milli created a custom cartridge containing Microsoft BASIC and was able to have CP/M automatically install its contents on the RAM disk. He also created a MOUNT program which he can run from the command line to copy cartridge files to the RAM disk without rebooting. This would enable the user to quickly install new CP/M software from a different cartridge. I am hoping that Milli spends more time experimenting with this concept and that maybe he’ll even make some custom CP/M cartridges available in the future.

Today I discovered an excellent Z80 Reference app on the iOS App Store. It’s a complete & searchable reference to the Z80 CPU instruction set and even includes sample code! This is a free download so go get it now if you have an iPhone or iPad. #Z80 #8bit

Gotta get started on my taxes soon… luckily ADAM has me covered. 😉 #ColecoADAM #TaxTipThursday

Coleco ADAM Tax Planner software box

Custom ColecoVision Gamepad Controller

I’ve always been a big fan of the original NES D-pad style controllers. After all, I spent many hours of my youth holding one! So… when I discovered a shop on eBay that was making & selling custom ColecoVision controllers in this style I had to have one. 🤤

It arrived this week and its even better than I expected. The care that went into making this controller is very evident when you see it and even more so when you hold it. The build quality is remarkable and it actually feels even better than I remember the old NES controller being. Not to mention - it just looks great! Retrogameboyz has truly done a wonderful job on this product.

Of course, by not featuring a numeric keypad like the standard Coleco controller there are some games (mainly ones that utilize overlays) that won’t be playable with this. However the vast majority will play just fine and (bonus) will be made even more enjoyable by virtue of it simply being more comfortable than the original ColecoVision controller. The “select” and “start” buttons on this controller have been wisely mapped to the keypad *️⃣ and 1️⃣ buttons, respectively. This combo will get you through the start screens and select screens of most games. For games where this is insufficient you can connect a standard Coleco controller with a Y-cable to port 1 or do what I do and leave a Coleco controller plugged into the second joystick port. If all else fails, you can simply swap the controller in port 1 after the menu screen.

This controller - combined with my recently acquired AtariMax Ultimate SD will provide me with hours of retro gaming fun on my ADAM! If you’re interested in getting one of these awesome gamepad controllers visit Retrogameboyz on eBay. He also offers custom-styled versions for other retro systems like the TI-99 4A, Sega Master System, Atari, MSX, Commodore 64, Amiga, Odyssey, and even Vectrex. Game on! 👾

Atarimax Ultimate SD

Look what arrived at my door this week! This is the Atarimax Ultimate SD cartridge.

This beauty lets me easily play any ColecoVision game ever made in addition to the hundreds of quality homebrew indie games that are available. Believe it or not, awesome new games are still being designed and released for ColecoVision/ADAM after all these years!

While the old original games were all 32K or less, many of the new ROMs are much larger featuring enhanced graphics and sound. My ADE Lite drive already has the capability to load (most) of the 32K ROM files but any of the larger games were out of reach for me… until now!

If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself head over to www.atarimax.com.

Atarimax Ultimate SD cartridge

DDP FTW #FebruADAM #ColecoADAM

For day 2 of #FebruADAM let’s time travel all the way back to September 28, 1983 and watch as Coleco introduces ADAM to the public. 🍿

🎦 https://youtu.be/gg_I9TGYM-w

Of course I’m wearing this T-shirt today! 🙂 #FebruADAM

ADAM t-shirt

#FebruADAM Starts Today!

🥳 The very first #FebruADAM has begun! Conceived by Milli in the spirit of #SepTandy and #DOSember, #FebruADAM is the month dedicated to our favourite 8-bit computer, the Coleco ADAM. Celebrate the #ColecoADAM by sharing content with the hashtag #FebruADAM!

#FebruADAM

GR mode is GRRReat! 🐯

Had some fun this morning messing around with SmartBASIC and ADAM’s low resolution graphics (GR) mode. I’ve always loved the simplicity of its 40x40 grid and the fact that it has a convenient text area below it. I was working with sprites while in GR mode and it looks promising. Drawing and animating the higher resolution sprite over the chunky blocks of GR graphics certainly makes for an interesting combination. I’m feeling like its even got potential for some 👾 game concepts. We’ll see!

A sprite in ADAM's GR graphics mode.

📷 8-bit Winter Blues ❄️ #ColecoADAM

Coleco ADAM

📰 Start spreading the news: February will henceforth be known as #FebruADAM! https://youtu.be/wbnuFhvUaYY #ColecoADAM

Attention ADAMites: William “Milli” Hicks is launching a new YouTube channel completely dedicated to the #ColecoADAM! Milli really knows his stuff so this is a channel you’ll definitely want to watch… subscribe today! ☑️🔔 https://youtube.com/channel/UCcOPctXP788CkTiQR_9CtWQ

🕹 Played “Alcazar” on #ColecoADAM for the first time today. Spent way more time playing it than I intended to… a sign of a great game! 👍

Screenshot of Alcazar (1986) for Coleco ADAM

Here Comes The MIB! 😎

No, not the Men In Black.

I’m talking about the new MIB238 (Multi-purpose Interface Board) for the Coleco ADAM! The MIB238 is an incredibly versatile expansion card that installs in slot #2 and provides ADAM with these amazing features:

  • 2 RS-232 serial ports
  • 1 parallel port
  • 1 boot PROM socket
  • 1 memory expansion addressor

All of that functionality is packed onto one elegant board. To make things even more incredible this board doesn’t require any external power source… it is completely powered by the ADAM itself. You can see why I consider this to be the holy grail of ADAM expansion cards!

The MIB238 was created by Eric Pearson. Eric is one of the most knowledgeable people in the ADAM community and his contributions are many (including the awesome SD-DDP drive). His MIB238 project is a modern redesign of the legendary Micro Innovations “MIB3” card. An original MIB3 card for ADAM is almost impossible to find these days (I’ve tried!) so a new card offering 100% compatibility with the original is a true godsend. You can find Eric’s project on GitHub. I was personally thrilled when Eric announced it because it provides ADAM owners with a viable option for bringing their beloved computers online or connecting them to other peripherals like dot matrix printers or 80-column displays. The only problem (for me) is that the MIB238 is a DIY hardware project that is above my skill set. Enter John Lundy.

John Lundy consistently builds top-notch hardware for the ADAM. His tiny-but-mighty ADE Lite was one of the first things I bought when I got back into ADAM computing. His work is impeccable! So when I saw on Facebook that he would be putting together a small run of MIB238 cards I snapped one up in an instant. It arrived this week and it does not disappoint. Here’s a picture of it in all its glory:

MIB238 Card with Cables

As you can see, I got one serial cable and one parallel cable with the card. I don’t currently have a dot matrix printer but I may get one some day so I have the parallel cable just in case. The serial cable will be connected to my WiModem232 to get my ADAM on the internet again since my external Orphanware/HLM-GLK serial device is (sadly) no longer operational.

The MIB238 installed in my ADAM

As I mentioned, the card installs in slot #2 which meant I did have to remove my dedicated RAM expansion addressor card. However, this was not a problem since the MIB238 includes an addressor connection wire which works flawlessly with my MicroFox 256K RAM expander.

The MIB238 card is simply an incredible addition to my ADAM and I really want to thank Eric and John for making it a reality!

ADAMLink splash screen

ADAMLink connecting to the Level 29 BBS

Something awesome arrived in yesterday’s mail. 📦

Stay tuned!

An Early ADAM Christmas Gift 🎁

It’s the first day of December and Joe Blenkle has gifted the ADAM community with the 2020 edition of the A.N.N. (Adam News Network) Christmas disk! Thank you to Joe for all the hard work he put into this. I even managed to get my name included this year! This is a wonderful 320K multimedia disk image with a slideshow featuring colourful Christmas graphics set to classic holiday tunes.

You can download it directly from Joe’s website or from the Coleco ADAM Facebook Group here. Joe’s website also has a collection of multimedia Christmas disks for each year going back to 1992! Run them on your ADAM today to start feeling festive! 🎄

Here’s a sneak peak of just a few of the graphics:

📢 If you’ve ever wanted one of the legendary Micro Innovations multi-purpose expansion cards (MIB2/3) for your #ColecoADAM, here is your chance! John Lundy has built a small run of MIB238 cards (based on Eric Pearson’s design) and is selling them via the ADAM Facebook group. GO!

UPDATE: All sold! 👐🏻

🔵🔴 #ColecoADAM

Learning more about the VDP and how to move data between RAM and VRAM using SmartBASIC and machine code. The Nibbles & Bits newsletter “Hacker’s Delight” section is always interesting! 🔰 #ColecoADAM

Playing with SmartLOGO… it’s surprisingly powerful. Lots of learning to do! Found out that I can dump the byte data of a LOGO shape and use it in SmartBASIC 2.0 for a sprite. 🐢

Serial (Port) Killer

This week I killed my ADAM. 💀

I was trying to fix a new issue I’m having where any software that tries to access the serial port is just echoing a series of “D” characters onto the screen. The problem is present in ADAMLink V (EOS) and Qterm (CP/M). My serial port device is an Orphanware/HLM-GLK model which attaches to ADAM’s side expansion port. However I figured out that it wasn’t a problem with my serial port because the behaviour persisted even when I had nothing attached to the expansion port.

I posted about the problem on the ADAM Facebook Group and it was suggested by James Notini that I try connecting my Atari 2600 adapter (ColecoVision Expansion Module #1) to see if its a problem with my expansion port. The Atari adapter worked just fine so I had a bit of fun playing Asteroids while I decided on my next course of action.

I tried removing my memory expansion card. No difference. I tried disconnecting each of my data drives. No difference. I tried using the printer power instead of my new external power supply. No change. Milli suggested disconnecting the keyboard while the “D” stream was appearing to see if it was a keyboard glitch. It wasn’t. At a loss, I decided I would dismantle ADAM to clean out any dust as well as inspect the boards and see if any wires or chips were loose.

This was the first time I had taken ADAM completely apart, removing all the metal shielding (of which there is a lot) and getting right down to the boards. It was kinda fun but a little nerve-wracking as I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to put it back together again. After all, this is my one and only ADAM computer! 😬 Inside ADAM level 1 - ColecoVision Board Inside ADAM level 2 - ADAM Board ADAM's Brain - The Z80 CPU

After cleaning out the dust with compressed air and inspecting the boards I put ADAM back together again and booted up… to a blank screen. A blank screen with a steady sound being emitted to be exact. 😱 What had I done wrong? I must’ve missed reconnecting something. I didn’t have time to take it all apart so I had to leave it for a couple of days until this morning when I made my attempt to bring ADAM back from the dead.

I was methodical. After each part I disconnected I would try to power up ADAM and see if the screen stayed blank. It was when I removed the top metal shielding from the ColecoVision board and powered up that I was finally greeted by ADAM’s familiar word processor. 🎉 I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I discovered that one of the screws was making contact with the shielding above and the shielding below the CV board which was causing the problem. I removed the top shielding, re-assembled, and I was back in business! Did a RAM test and diagnostic and everything looks good.

Unfortunately the orginal “D” stream serial port problem that started this misadventure still haunts my ADAM 👻 but for now I am just happy to have him alive and functional again!

Homebrew Hardware from the ADAM Community

Some new ADAM hardware goodies arrived this week!

I am thrilled to be one of the first people in Canada to get my hands on the awesome new ADAM SD-DDP drive! The SD-DDP drive uses SD cards and .DDP (Digital Data Pack) files (readily available on the ADAM Archive) to perfectly emulate an original ADAM Digital Data Drive. ADAM treats it just like a real DDP drive so it doesn’t need any software drivers… a true thing of beauty!

The SD-DDP project was originally created by Eric Pearson who generously shared all of the details on GitHub. Hardware guru John Lundy was able to use Eric’s plans and code to produce a beautiful professional-quality, user-installable device which he then made available for sale to all members of the ADAM community via the Coleco ADAM Facebook Group.

The second piece of hardware that arrived at my door this week was built by none other than ADAM legend James Walters (of Walters Software Co). It is an external power supply that negates the need to keep my aging SmartWRITER printer connected. The power supply is well built and looks fantastic as it perfectly complements ADAM’s memory console.

Check out the pictures! The ADAM community is very fortunate to have such incredibly knowledgeable, generous, and talented folks in its ranks.

The ADAM SD-DDP prior to installation.The SD-DDP installed in my ADAM and powered up.The Walters external power supply for the Coleco ADAM.The power supply and SD-DDP fully integrated into my ADAM system! Also pictured is my ADE Lite drive.

Reading the Nibbles & Bits newsletter and learning about the #ColecoADAM VDP (Video Display Processor) by mixing some machine language with SmartBASIC! 🤓⌨️

Here’s your chance to support the indispensible ADAM archive and get a free car window sticker to show your ❤️ for the #ColecoADAM. Act now, limited quantities available! #RetroComputing ➡ http://adamarchive.org/donate.php