Commodore CDTV
ManufacturerCommodore International
TypeHome multimedia entertainment / Home video game console / Personal computer
GenerationFourth generation
Release dateMarch 1991; 31 years ago (1991-03)
Introductory priceUS$999 (equivalent to $1,990 in 2021)
Units soldGermany: 25.800[1]
UK: ~29.000
Operating systemAmigaOS 1.3
CPUMotorola 68000 @ 7 MHz
PredecessorCommodore 64 Games System
SuccessorAmiga 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 April 1991.[2]


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 regular Amiga.[3] 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 materialize, 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.[3] The product debuted in North America in March 1991 (CES Las Vegas) and in the UK (World of Commodore 1991 at Earls Court, London).[4] It was advertised at £499 for the CDTV unit, remote control and two software titles.[5] The device was released in the United States for $999.[6]

In 1990 Computer Gaming World stated that Commodore had a poor reputation among consumers and developers, citing "abysmal record of customer and technical support in the past".[3] 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,[7] which eventually came in the form of the A570. This further hurt sales of the CDTV, as an A570-equipped A500 was electronically the same as a CDTV and, consequently, could run CDTV software, so there was very little motivation for an Amiga owner to buy a CDTV. However, Nolan Bushnell, one of the chief endorsers of the CDTV, argued the system's high price 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."[8]

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 directly from CD-ROM.

By 1994 Computer Gaming World described the CDTV as a "fiasco" for Commodore.[9] Though the company later developed an improved and cost-reduced CDTV-II, it was never released.[10] 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.

In December 2021 an unofficial free ROM update was released for CDTV (2.35), which brings compatibility with 68030 accelerator boards and 32-bit Fast RAM, allows non-CDTV titles to boot, fixes bugs and restores several features that were lost in the 2.7 and 2.30 ROMs. Because of copyright reasons the custom ROM is distributed in patch form.[11]


Commodore CDTV setup with 1084 monitor displaying the CDTV's audio CD player facility.
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 mainstream personal computer. As such, its housing had dimensions and styling that were fairly comparable to most household stereo system components of the period, and it came with an infrared remote control. Similarly, it was initially sold without a keyboard or a 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

Close-up detail of the CDTV buttons.
Close-up detail of the CDTV buttons.
CDTV remote control
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

The CDTV is compatible with many Amiga peripherals from the same period. In addition, official CDTV peripherals and upgrades included:



List of Commodore CDTV games

Market competition

High-end A/V (primary market)

(multi-purpose audio/video systems)

Video gaming (secondary market)

See also


  1. ^ "Distrita - Where to Go".
  2. ^ Feldman, Tony (1994). Multimedia. Psychology Press. ISBN 9781857130102.
  3. ^ a b c "The Maturation of Computer Entertainment: Warming The Global Village". Computer Gaming World. 1990-07-08. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  4. ^ "The Commodore CDTV Information Center -". Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  5. ^ "Amiga History Guide".
  6. ^ "Beaver County Times - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  7. ^ "Commodore CDTV". TidBITS. 1991-05-20. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  8. ^ "What the Hell has Nolan Bushnell Started?". Next Generation. Imagine Media (4): 9. April 1995.
  9. ^ Miller, Chuck; Dille, H. E.; Wilson, Johnny L. (January 1994). "Battle Of The New Machines". Computer Gaming World. pp. 64–76.
  10. ^ "The Big Book of Amiga Hardware - Commodore CDTV-II".
  11. ^ "CDTV OS 2.35 - FAQ".
  12. ^ "The Commodore CDTV Information Center -".
  13. ^ "CDTV Technical Information by Darren Ewaniuk".
  14. ^ "The Big Book of Amiga Hardware - Commodore CD1300".