|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.
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."
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.
Nolan Bushnell, CDTV Project Manager
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
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.
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
CDTV Technical Specifications
Commodore Rare Items
Growing Pains: From 'Baby' to
CDA-1 (Pre-production No.1)
CDA-1 (Pre-production No.2)
Last Update: 13/8/2002