Retro Game Consoles – Amiga CD32


Amiga CD32
1993-1994

 

The Amiga CD32 was the world’s first 32-bit CD-ROM based game console and one of Commodore’s last product before filing for liquidation in 1994. Commodore announced the CD32 at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom on July 16, 1993 and released in September of the same year.

 

Amiga CD32 game console

Above: Amiga CD32 game console

 

The Amiga CD32 is based on Commodore’s Advanced Graphics Architecture chipset, and is of similar specification to the Amiga 1200. Using 3rd-party devices, it is possible to upgrade the CD32 with keyboard, floppy drive, and mouse, turning it into a personal computer.

 

Amiga CD32 retail box

Above: Amiga CD32 retail box

 

A hardware MPEG decompression module for playing Video CD was also available, however, as few as 400 modules have made it to market. Often regarded as a failure, the CD32 managed to secure over 50% of the fledgling CD-ROM market in Great Britain in 1993 and 1994 outselling the MegaCD, Philips CDi and even PC CD-ROM sales. The CD32 was released in the United States and Canada, but was not successful.

 

Alien Breed Amiga CD32

Above: Alien Breed on the Amiga CD32

 

Commodore was not able to meet demand for new units because of component supply problems. The success of the CD32 in Europe was not enough to save Commodore, and the bankruptcy of Commodore International in April 1994 caused the CD32 to be discontinued only months after its debut.

 

Technical Specs

The Amiga CD32 was powered by the Motorola 68EC020 processor running at 14.3MHz, which is similar to the 68020, but with a few options dialled down. Memory was divided in to three main areas: 2MB Chip RAM, designed for graphics access only; 1MB for the operating system and 1KB of flash memory.

 

Amiga CD32 motherboard

Above: Amiga CD32 motherboard

 

The graphics were powered by the Amiga’s customer graphics chipset known as the Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA). This is the same chipset used in the Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000.

It features a pallet of 16.7 million colors with no more than 262144 on screen at one time. The highest resolution is 1280 x 512, but this was never used for gaming due to the limited number of colors.

The Amiga CD32 has 4 voices in stereo using 8-bit resolution. The game console offered enough ports to allow the Amiga CD32 to be converted into a full featured Amiga 1200 computer. Third party vendors sold 3.5 inch floppy drives keyboard and other devices to support the Amiga 32 as a computer. It is ironic that after year of trying to fight the image of a game machine, that once Commodore released a game computer, people find a way to convert it back to a computer.