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ColecoVision

The ColecoVision is a second-generation home video game console that was designed and manufactured by Coleco.  Coleco entered the video game market in 1976 with their Telstar line of dedicated home consoles.  When the market for dedicated consoles became oversaturated with Pong clones Coleco shift focus to producing a line of miniature tabletop arcade games with license rights from various video game developers such as Sega, Midway and Nintendo.

Coleco was able to sustain enough sales in the video game market through 1982 while still manufacture toys as their core business.  Coleco CEO Arnold Greenberg was interested in pursuing the creation of a home video game console with interchangeable cartridges like the Atari VCS but with much more graphical capabilities.

In August of 1982 Coleco entered the console market with the release of the ColecoVision. The ColecoVision was similar in style to Mattel’s Intellivision and approach at being expandable by offering hardware add-ons. The ColecoVision was more powerful than any of its competitors when the system launched. Coleco took a different approach than Mattel by working with established companies that had popular arcade titles to get them ported to their new console instead of focusing on creating new content. The ColecoVision was powerful enough to have arcade games ported to it without any loss in graphics or gameplay.

Coleco was able to offer the best arcade experience in a home console and was able to obtain exclusive content from arcade manufactures like Sega, Konami and Nintendo. The system was released with the enormously successful arcade game “Donkey Kong” bundled in with the system and sold for $175. The ColecoVision was an instant hit and sold over a million units within its first year on the market.

ManufacturerColeco Industries, Inc.
DistributorColeco (NA)
CBS Electronics (EU)
SystemColecoVision (NA)
CBS ColecoVision (EU)
PredecessorColeco Telstar Arcade
SuccessorColeco Gemini
Hardware TypeHome Console
GenerationSecond Generation
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseNA: August 1982
EU: July 1983
Discontinued1985
Launch Price$ 199.99 USD
£ 149.99 EU
Sales2 Million
Game Library129 Games
colecovision expansion module
Coleco released an expansion module for $60 that allowed it’s user base to be able to play all Atari 2600 games.

The ColecoVision’s controller was very similar to the Intellivision’s controller by offering a 12-button keypad designed that could be used with custom overlays that mapped the keys for a particular game and a set of side buttons. The main difference between the two controllers was that the ColecoVision version used a Joystick instead of a circular control disc that was offered with the Intellivision controller.

With Atari having the vast majority of the install base both Mattel and Coleco targeted the Atari 2600 in their advertisements instead of marketing their systems against each other. Coleco launched its first Expansion Module before the end of 1982 which gave the ColecoVision the ability to play any Atari 2600 game on its console. The Expansion Module sold for $60 and simply plugged into the Expansion Module Interface slot located on the front of the console. Not only did this give owners of the ColecoVision the ability to play Atari 2600 games but also allowed the use of Atari joysticks as the Expansion Module had ports in the front that were compatible with all Atari 2600 controllers.

Coleco’s Expansion Module did not emulate an Atari 2600 environment but was simply an Atari 2600 hardware clone. The hardware add-on only used the ColecoVision console for power and its RF connector to send video output to a television set. Atari instantly threatened to sue Coleco over the creation of the Expansion Module but Coleco’s legal team concluded that it would be completely legal to clone the Atari 2600 since all of its components were off the shelf hardware with no copyrightable software. Atari pressed this by taking Coleco to court for patent infringement, however a court ruled in Coleco’s favor just as Coleco’s legal team concluded. Since the Expansion Module did not infringe on Atari’s patents for the 2600, this opened the market for other companies to release Atari 2600 clones. Coleco even decided to make a stand-alone Atari 2600 clone named the Gemini which incorporated both a joystick and paddle on the same controller.

The video game market soon became over saturated with competing console manufactures and a flood of low-quality games. The practice of quantity over quality became too common leaving many unsatisfied customers with their purchases. The market share was no longer sustainable resulting in the great video game crash of 1983. Revenues for video game makers dropped almost 97% in only two years. The crash almost destroyed the then-growing industry and cause newly entering companies to look for new and unique ways to win back customers. Ultimately this is what drove Coleco out of the video game hardware industry.

Introducing the ColecoVision Commercials

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
August 1982ColecoVision BoxDonkey KongNintendoColecoPlatformer
August 1982Cosmic AvengerUniversalColecoSide-scrolling Shooter
September 1982Mouse Trap ColecoVision BoxMouse TrapColecoColecoMaze
September 1982Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s CastleColecoColecoPlatformer
September 1982VentureExidyColecoAction
October 1982CarnivalSegaColecoFixed Shooter
October 1982Lady BugUniversalColecoMaze
October 1982ZaxxonSegaColecoIsometric Shooter
November 1982TurboSegaColecoRacing
December 1982Ken Uston BlackJack / PokerColecoColecoCasino

Media & Promotional Material