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The Amiga CD32,  is the first 32-bit home video game console released in western Europe, Australia, Canada and Brazil. It was first announced at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom on July 16, 1993, and was released in September of the same year. The CD32 uses CD-ROM media, and was developed by Commodore, creator of the Commodore 64 computer. It was based on Commodore’s Advanced Graphics Architecture chipset, and is of similar specification to theAmiga 1200 computer. Using third party devices, it is possible to upgrade the CD32 with keyboard, floppy drive, hard drive, RAM and mouse, turning it into the equivalent of an Amiga 1200 personal computer. A hardware MPEG decompression module for playing Video CD was released. In the Christmas period following its launch, the CD32 accounted for 38% of all CD-ROM drive sales in the UK, exceeding sales of the Mega-CD.

The CD32 was released in Canada and was planned for release in the United States. Commodore stated that the console would launch in the United States in either late February or early March 1994, at the price of $399 with two pack-in games, Pinball Fantasies and Sleepwalker, as well as six separately sold launch games. However, a deadline was reached for Commodore to pay 10 million USD in patent royalty to Cad Track  for their use of their XOR patent. A federal judge ordered an injunction against Commodore preventing them from importing anything into the United States. Commodore had built up CD32 inventory in their Philippine manufacturing facility for the United States launch, but, being unable to sell the consoles, they remained in the Philippines until the debts owed to the owners of the facility were settled. Commodore declared bankruptcy shortly afterwards, and the CD32 was never officially sold in the United States. However, imported models did come over the border from Canada, and many stores in the United States (primarily mail-order stores) imported units for domestic sale. During the long bankruptcy proceedings, Commodore UK also provided some hardware components and software for the American market, including production of the MPEG Video Module that was not officially released by Commodore International. On its release, the CD32 was marketed by Commodore as “the world’s first 32-bit CD games console”. Although it was indeed the first such machine released in Europe and North America, it was beaten to market by seven months by the FM Towns Marty, a console released exclusively in Japan. However, the CD32’s 68EC020 processor has a 32-bit data bus both internally and externally, while the 386SX in the FM Towns Marty has a 16-bit data bus externally.

 

More news: Generation Amiga magazine