Commodore CDTV

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Commodore CDTV
Manufacturer Commodore International
Type Home multimedia entertainment / Home video game console / Personal computer
Generation Fourth generation
Release date March 1991; 26 years ago (1991-03)
Introductory price US$999 (equivalent to $1,757 in 2016)
Media CD-ROM
Operating system AmigaOS 1.3
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 7 MHz
Memory MB
Predecessor Commodore 64 Games System
Successor Amiga CD32

The CDTV (from Commodore Dynamic Total Vision, later treated as a backronym for Compact Disc Television) is a home multimedia entertainment and video game console – convertible into a full-fledged personal computer by the addition of optional peripherals – developed by Commodore International and launched in March 1991.


The CDTV is essentially a Commodore Amiga 500 home computer with a CD-ROM drive and remote control. With the optional keyboard, mouse, and floppy disk drive, it gained the functionality of the Amiga.[1] Commodore marketed the machine as an all-in-one multimedia appliance. As such, it targeted the same market as the Philips CD-i. The expected market for multimedia appliances did not materialise, and neither machine met with any real commercial success. Though the CDTV was based entirely on Amiga hardware, it was marketed strictly as a CDTV, with the Amiga name omitted from product branding.

Commodore announced the CDTV at the summer 1990 Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, promising to release it before the end of the year with 100 software titles.[1] The product debuted in North America in March 1991 (CES Las Vegas) and in the UK (World of Commodore 1991 at Earls Court, London).[2] It was advertised at £499 for the CDTV unit, remote control and two software titles.[3] The device was released in the United States for $999.[4]

By 1990, Commodore had a poor reputation among consumers and developers. Computer Gaming World wrote that year of its "abysmal record of customer and technical support in the past".[1] The company chose Amiga-enthusiast magazines as its chief advertising channel, but the Amiga community on the whole avoided the CDTV in the expectation of an add-on CD-ROM drive for the Amiga,[5] which eventually came in the form of the A570. This further hurt sales of the CDTV, as both it and an A570-equipped A500 were the same electronically, and could both run CDTV software, so there was very little motivation to buy it. Commodore would rectify this with CDTV's successor, the A1200-based Amiga CD32, by adding the Akiko chip. This would enable CD32 games to be playable only on the CD32. However, Nolan Bushnell, one of the chief endorsers of the CDTV, argued the system's high price point alone was enough to explain its market failure: "... it's very difficult to sell significant numbers of anything at more than $500. ... I felt that I could sell a hundred thousand of something that costs $800 standing on my head. I thought that it would be a no-brainer. And I can tell you that the number of units that we sold in the U.S. at $800 you could put in your eye and not draw tears."[6]

The CDTV was supplied with AmigaOS 1.3, rather than the more advanced and user-friendly 2.0 release that was launched at around the same time. Notably, the CDXL motion video format was primarily developed for the CDTV making it one of the earliest consumer systems to allow video playback from CD-ROM.

Though Commodore later developed an improved and cost-reduced CDTV-II it was never released.[7] Commodore discontinued the CDTV in 1993 with the launch of the Amiga CD32, which again was substantially based on Amiga hardware (in this case the newer Amiga 1200) but explicitly targeted the games market.


Commodore CDTV setup with 1084 monitor displaying the CDTV's audio CD player facility.

The CDTV was intended as a media appliance rather than a personal computer. As such, its housing had dimensions and styling compatible with most stereo components, and it came with an infrared remote control. Similarly, it was initially sold without keyboard and mouse (which could be added separately, and were later bundled with the machine). The CDTV was based on the same technology as earlier Amiga systems, but featured a single-speed CD-ROM drive and no floppy disk drive as standard.

Technical specifications[edit]

Close-up detail of the CDTV buttons.
Attribute Specification
Processor Motorola 68000 at 7.16 MHz (NTSC)[a] or 7.09 MHz (PAL)[b][c]
  • 256 kB Kickstart ROM
  • 256 kB CDTV firmware ROM
Chipset Original Chip Set (OCS) Enhanced Chip Set (ECS)
  • 12-bit color palette (4096 colors)
  • Graphics modes with up to 32, 64 (EHB mode), or 4096 (HAM mode) on-screen colors:
    • 320 × 200 to 320 × 400i (NTSC)[a]
    • 320 × 256 to 320 × 512i (PAL)[b][c]
  • Graphics modes with up to 16 on-screen colors:
    • 640 × 200 to 640 × 400i (NTSC)[a]
    • 640 × 256 to 640 × 512i (PAL)[b][c]
Removable storage Single-speed CD-ROM drive (proprietary controller)
Input/output ports
Audio/Video output
Expansion slots
  • Proprietary card slot by ITT-Cannon and Fujisoku for 8 KB to 1024 KB non-volatile memory cards
    (1 MB addressing needs a hardware hack)
  • 80-pin diagnostic slot
  • 30-pin DMA expansion slot
  • Video slot
Operating system
  • AmigaOS 1.3 (Kickstart 1.3/Workbench 1.3)
  • CDTV firmware
Physical dimensions 430 × 330 × 95 mm (width × depth × height)


  1. ^ North American model
  2. ^ UK model
  3. ^ European model

Official upgrades[edit]

The CDTV was compatible with many existing Amiga peripherals. In addition, official CDTV peripherals and upgrades included:

  • Wireless infrared mouse (CD1252)
  • Wireless trackball
  • Black styled keyboard
  • SCSI controller providing both an internal and external SCSI connector for hard disk drives and other SCSI devices
  • External black styled hard disk drive[8]
  • External black styled floppy disk drive (CD1411, an FB-354C)
  • Proprietary memory cards with a capacity of 64 or 256 kB (CD1401/CD1405) allowing storage of game scores and progress[9]
  • Genlocks for NTSC or PAL (CD1300/CD1301) to overlay video signal with a secondary video source[10]


  • CDTV: CDTV unit and remote control/gamepad
  • Pro pack: CDTV unit, remote control/gamepad, keyboard, mouse and floppy disk drive, along with Almathera CDPD Public domain software compilation on CD-ROM

Market competition[edit]

High-end A/V (primary market)[edit]

(multi-purpose audio/video systems)

Video gaming (secondary market)[edit]

See also[edit]