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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved



Amiga CDTV

Developer: Commodore International
Launched: June 1990
Launch Price: 699 UK Pounds.

In 1990 Commodore launched a machine as ground-breaking as the original Amiga, the CDTV. It was basically an A500 in a black video-style case without the keyboard or disk drive and a CD-ROM drive "stuck on". But this was not made it special- it was the approach that Commodore took to selling the machine that set it apart from the Amiga. Rather than a computer it was sold as a consumer device in order to compete with the Philip's CDi. It was criticised by the Amiga fraternity for the lack of expandibility or support from third parties. Until recently it was impossible to upgrade the machine beyond version 1.3 of the OS. It is possible to turn the console into a fully fledged computer by adding a keyboard and disk drive.
CDTV keyboard and disk drive
The CDTV was hailed as the next computer evolution, moving the machine from the bedroom into the living room.
Nolan Bushnell even went on record as saying,

"CDTV will truly change the way people learn and are entertained. It's the real new media of the nineties."
Nolan Bushnell, CDTV Project Manager
The only competition was the Phillips CD-i; Even Commodore could have influenced the development of the CD market to favour their machine, right? However, the CD market was still an unknown that had different requirements to the standard Amiga. To investigate this further, Commodore hired a study group to research the area and make recommendations. This resulted in the decision to distance the CDTV from the computer, promoting it as the next generation VCR. Commodore insisted that retailers did not physically place it near to other computers. This led to mass confusion, computer people did not buy it because "it wasn't a computer", while non-computer people said it was "too much like a computer." It only sold in small numbers but did introduce the Amiga to the advantages of CD as a storage method.
CDTV boot screen CD player CD player
Kelly Sumner of Commodore UK, commented after the CDTV's failure;
"We got the basics wrong. Wrong price, wrong spec, no support. It came out with Workbench 1.3 when we were launching Workbench 2.0 [on the Amiga] so the operating system was out of date. It could have done with a bit more RAM and I think it should have come with a built-in 3.5" floppy disk drive."
'Brown' Good
The CDTV was launched as a 'Brown' good, more akin to your stereo or kettle than a computer. Former Commodore UK boss, David Pleasance commented that this advertising campaign was arrived at by a very costly research company. Their conclusion was that the machine should not be sold as a computer or associated with the Amiga brand name. The machine was finally dubbed the 'Amiga CDTV' after a poster campaign in Germany.

CDTV Emulation
Soon after the CDTV's release, Commodore launched the A570 CD-ROM drive for the A500. This provided limited compatibility with CDTV software.

CDTV Service manual (6.08k) | Yellow CDTV manual (33k) | CDTV Manual (7.17k) | CDTV hookup instructions (125k)
Unexpanded CDTV (16.3k)  | Expanded CDTV (19.1k) | CDTV-Back (20.4k) CDTV Internals (27k)

Read CDTV Review by Nhan Trong Nguyen
CDTV Technical Specifications

Related Pages
Commodore Rare Items
Growing Pains: From 'Baby' to 'CDTV'
CDA-1 (Pre-production No.1)
CDA-1 (Pre-production No.2)
CDTV-CR Prototype


Last Update: 13/8/2002

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