|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||June 20, 1932
|Defunct||1988 (first age)|
|Headquarters||Manalapan, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Products||Video games, consumer electronics|
Number of employees
Coleco Inc. is an American company founded in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg as "Connecticut Leather Company". It became a highly successful toy company in the 1980s, known for its mass-produced version of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and its video game consoles, the Coleco Telstar dedicated consoles and ColecoVision. The company is headquartered in Manalapan, New Jersey. While the company's first iteration disappeared in 1988 as a result of declining interest, the company was revived in 2005, and remains active to this day.
Coleco originally processed shoe leather, which later led to a business in leather craft kits in the 1950s. They began manufacturing plastic moulding and moved into plastic wading pools in the 1960s. The leather part of the business was then sold off.
Under CEO Arnold Greenberg, the company entered the video game console business with the Telstar in 1976. Dozens of companies were introducing game systems that year after Atari's successful Pong console. Nearly all of these new games were based on General Instrument's "Pong-on-a-chip". However, General Instrument had underestimated demand, and there were severe shortages. Coleco had been one of the first to place an order, and was one of the few companies to receive an order in full. Though dedicated game consoles did not last long on the market, their early order enabled Coleco to break even.
Coleco continued to do well in electronics. They transitioned next into handheld electronic games, a market popularized by Mattel. An early hit was Electronic Quarterback. Coleco produced two very popular lines of games, the "head to head" series of two player sports games, (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey) and the Mini-Arcade series of licensed video arcade titles such as Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man. A third line of educational handhelds was also produced and included the Electronic Learning Machine, Lil Genius, Digits, and a trivia game called Quiz Wiz. Launched in 1982, their first four tabletop Mini-Arcades, for Pac-Man, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, and Frogger, sold approximately three million units within a year. Among these, 1.5 million units were sold for Pac-Man alone. In 1983, they released three more Mini-Arcades: for Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Junior, and Zaxxon.
Coleco returned to the video game console market in 1982 with the launch of the ColecoVision. While the system was quite popular, Coleco hedged their bet on video games by introducing a line of ROM cartridges for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. They also introduced the Coleco Gemini, a clone of the popular Atari 2600.
When the video game business began to implode in 1983, it seemed clear that video game consoles were being supplanted by home computers. Coleco's strategy was to introduce the Coleco Adam home computer, both as a stand-alone system and as an expansion module to the ColecoVision. This effort failed, in large part because Adams were often unreliable. The Adam flopped; Coleco withdrew from electronics early in 1985.
Also in 1983, Coleco released the Cabbage Patch Kids series of dolls which were wildly successful. Flush with success, they purchased beleaguered Selchow and Righter in 1986, manufacturers of Scrabble, Parcheesi, and Trivial Pursuit, sales of which had plummeted, leaving Selchow & Righter with warehouses full of unsold games. The purchase price was $75 million. That same year, Coleco introduced an ALF plush based on the furry alien character who had his own television series at the time, as well as a talking version and a cassette-playing "Storytelling ALF" doll. The combination of the purchase of Selchow & Righter, the disastrous Adam computer, and the public's waning infatuation with Cabbage Patch dolls all contributed to Coleco's financial decline. In 1988, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The reorganized Coleco sold off all of its North American assets and outsourced thousands of jobs to foreign countries, closing plants in Amsterdam, New York and other cities. In 1989, Hasbro and Canada based SLM Action Sports Inc. purchased Coleco's assets.
In 2005, River West Brands, a Chicago-based brand revitalization company, re-introduced Coleco to the marketplace. In late 2006, they introduced the Coleco Sonic, a handheld system containing twenty Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear games. In 2014, River West Brands established the subsidiary Coleco Holdings for their Coleco-branded projects.
In December 2015, Coleco Holdings announced the development of the Coleco Chameleon, a new cartridge-based video game system; in actuality, a re-branding of the controversial Retro VGS console, whose Indiegogo campaign failed to secure funding when it ended in early November 2015, with only $63,546 raised of its $1.95 million goal. In the press release, it was established that the system would be able to play new and classic games in the 8, 16, and 32-bit styles. The release for the system was announced to be sometime in early 2016, with a demonstration at Toy Fair New York in February. However, the demonstration at Toy Fair New York was revealed to be a fraud with the prototype consisting of a SNS-101 taped into an Atari Jaguar case, and later images of prototypes were also revealed to be fakes utilizing CCTV capture cards to fake the appearance of a motherboard. Upon the discovery of the deception and lack of a functional prototype, Coleco pulled out of involvement with Retro VGS, terminating the project.
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- "Hasbro's Purchase Of Coleco's Assets". New York Times. 1989-07-13. Retrieved November 13, 2006.
- "Press". Mike Kennedy. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
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