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ColecoVision console.jpg
Manufacturer Coleco
Generation Second generation
Release date August 1982 (US)

1982 (EU)

Media type ROM cartridge
Predecessor Telstar Arcade

The ColecoVision is Coleco's second generation home video game console, which was released in August 1982. The ColecoVision offered near-arcade-quality graphics and gaming style along with the means to expand the system's basic hardware.

Released with a catalog of 12 launch titles, with an additional 10 games announced for 1982, approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984. River West Brands currently owns the ColecoVision brand name.

Technical specification[edit]

For detailed information about specific components, see ColecoVision Hardware.

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. Some companies bypassed this loop, which necessitated embedding portions of the BIOS outside the delay loop, further reducing storage available to actual game programming.

  • CPU: NEC D780C-1 (NEC version of Zilog Z80A @ 3.58 MHz)
  • Video processor: Texas Instruments TMS9928A (40 Pin DIP)
    • 256×192 resolution
    • 32 Sprites
    • 16 colors
  • Sound: Texas Instruments SN76489A
    • 3 tone generators
    • 1 noise generator
  • VRAM: 16 KB ITT 8244 4116 3N (these are 16K by 1 bit chips, thus there are 8 of them)
  • RAM: 1 KB (2 x UPD2114LC 1024 X 4-bit SRAM (two chips for 1 KB of memory)
  • ROM: 8 KB Texas Instruments TMS4764NL Mask ROM
  • Storage: cartridge: 8/16/24/32 KB

Expansion modules[edit]

  • Expansion module #1 makes the ColecoVision compatible with the Atari 2600. Functionally, this gave the ColecoVision the largest software library of any console of its day. The expansion module prompted legal action from Atari, but Atari was unable to stop sales of the module because the 2600 could be reproduced with off the shelf parts. Coleco also designed and sold the Gemini game system, which was a clone of the 2600, but with combined joystick/paddle controllers.
  • Expansion module #2 is a driving controller (steering wheel / gas pedal) that came packaged with a port of the arcade game Turbo. The gas pedal is merely a simple on/off switch, so many games used the second ColecoVision controller as a gear shift for more precise speed control. Even though it's called "an expansion module", it actually plugs into the controller port, not into the Expansion Module Interface.
  • Expansion module #3 converts the ColecoVision into a full-fledged computer known as the Adam, complete with keyboard, digital data pack (DDP) cassette drives and printer.

Power supply[edit]

Input 120V AC-60Hz, 0.25A

Pin 1: +5V DC, 0.9A
Pin 2: -5V DC, 0.1A
Pin 3: +12V DC, 0.3A