Coleco Industries


Its in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, that the adventures of Coleco started. Maurice Greenberg, a Russian immigrant, was in the business of selling shoe repair supplies. He opened a store in West Hartford called:The “Connecticut Leather Company” (aka Coleco). His youngest son, Leonard, was an engineer and made his own factory in the back of his father’s shop.

In the 40s, he had talked his father into a new business venture:leather crafts. At first, Coleco only sold spools of leather for stitching purposes, and they eventually won prizes for their moccasin kits. In 1957, they moved their business to manufacture small wading pools. Leonard designed and built plastic forming machines to produce them. A few years later, they went for above-ground pools. They did very well and outcompeted the leather company. In 1962, they sold off the leather-goods portion and became Coleco Industries Inc.

In 1966, Maurice’s other son, Arnold, became Coleco’s chief legal counsel and later its president. Two years later, they acquired Eagle Toys of Canada which was re-christened Coleco Canada. This company made hockey tabletop games. In 1971, Coleco was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and five years later they entered the electronic game field with the Telstar. Their home Pong-type game was perfect to optimize the factory utilization and had good sale in 1977. They made several upgrated Telstars, but they lost $22.3 million in 1978 mainly due to a 60-day dock strike just before Christmas.

In 1981, Coleco began to check out the market of video game systems again and introduced, in August of 1982, Colecovision. The success was instantaneous for the arcade quality system. They sold over 550 000 consoles by Christmas and became the best seller over Atari and Intellivision. The Coleco stock increased from 6 7/8 to 36 ¾ during that period. With this craze, they rapidly launched their home computer:Adam. Unfortunately, the sales and the quality of the new product were not as expected, and Coleco dropped Colecovision and Adam in 1985. They were close to bankrupty but a new doll called Cabbage Patch Kids saved them for a short period of time. In 1986, the fad for the doll went down and the company lost $111 million. Finally, after another disaster year in 1987 with a los of $105 million, Coleco filed for bankrupty in 1988.