Features - Commodore CDTV

Commodore CDTV
Commodore's CDTV (=Commodore Dynamic Total Vision) was a multimedia computer which was introduced on the market in 1991. Like other products like the CD32 Commodore was not able to successfully sell this product. In my opinion there were several reasons for this:

  • Commodore did not do enough marketing for the CDTV. In Germany a real marketing campaign was started in late 1992: "Send DEM 1000,- and your old Amiga 500 to Commodore and get a brand-new CDTV". This offer was not attractive enough and came too late.
  • The CDTV came too early: In 1991 there were still a lot of people who were mainly C64 and Amiga users. So why should they buy another expensive computer.
  • Because of a disappointed number of sold hardware units in the first year of the CDTV's introduction there were hardly companies who supported the CDTV with high quality leisure software.

It is also interesting to see Commodore's "wish customer" for a CDTV. The below text was adapted from a brochure which was sent to Amiga dealers and which shows Commodore's prerequesites:

Age: 22-35 years
Sex: Mainly males
Social economical Level: Self-employed/clerks
Consumers: Own 2 or more colour TVs, Hi-Fi, audio systems;
Buy regularly electronic products;
Are well informed on the new technologies.
Home computer possessions: May have a computer, but it is not a
prerequisite;
May have had a computer in the past;
May be Amiga users.
Other possessions: Change car every 3 years;
Buy more than 10 CD or video titles a year.
How they buy: Look for new products.
Look for an active dialogue with the selling personnel
Look on brochures to get information on the product.
Life style: Innovators, leaders, thinkers.
Active and interested in their hobbies:
Sporting men, travelers, specialized press readers, steady TV watchers.

Commodore could never really reach this target audience.
Although the technical specifications of the CDTV were very good, they could not increase the CDTV's success:

Processor/Speed: Motorola 68000 16/32 bit 7.14Mhz
Co-processor: 3 custom chips (Agnus, Paula, Denise) increase the system's video, sound and graphic performance
CD-ROM Drive: Sony or Philips type in Mode 1, Mode 2 standard with a minimum access time of 0.5 seconds, maximum 0.8 seconds;
suitable for CD-ROM's, CD+Audio and CD+Graphic in ISO-9660 standard.
Disk storage capacity 650MB
CD Audio: 8 x oversampling. Audio Output 1.4 RMS, 10 K OHM;
Response frequency 4-20 Khz;
Channels separation -92db;
Harmonic Distortion 0.02% at 1Khz;
Top audio capacity 28 hours in AM;
Sample rates from 44Khz to 6 Khz;
Dual 16 bit D/A converter more than 64 attenuation levels.
Rear ports : Stereo headphones jack;
Personal memory card port.
Video Output : Analogic and Digital RGB. PAL composite;
RF modulation;
Genlock optional (CDTV, video or mixed).
Video Display: 512 lines /vertical frequency 50Hz;
Maximum video chip memory=1Mb;
4096 colours palette;
8 sprites per scanning.
Expansion Ports: Intelligent video port for optional genlock and RF card 25 pins connector;
DMA slot for SCSI, LAN etc.

In 1992 this advert which was shown in German Amiga magazines in order to increase the number of sold CDTV's. Unfortunately it did not reach its aim. Commodore's promise "Pay DEM 1000,-, give us your Amiga500 and get a new CDTV" was perhaps not attractive enough:

Here is a CDTV flyer for the English speaking countries:

Here are some box scans of CDTV titles. There were not sold many units of these games:

Curse of Ra CDTV
(c) Rainbow Arts
Hound of the Baskerv.
(c) On-line Entert.



Text and pictures by Bernd Gmeineder, February 2001
Thanks to Giorgio Signori for some texts


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