As far as strange business decisions go, Commodore was always capable of making the highlight reel. The Amiga A570 CDROM attachment was certainly right up there, for more than one reason. The A570 was compatible with the Amiga 500 and only the Amiga 500, a model of Amiga that was discontinued by the release of the external CDROM drive. The base Amiga that was being sold at the time – the Amiga 600 – went without ever having a similar device released for it (in fact the 600 has the impressive reputation as one of the least expandable legacy Amiga models available). The fact that an Amiga 500 with an A570 attached was also functionally identical to Commodore’s other CD based platform – the multi-media CDTV – and could run all CDTV software without issue hurt sales and confused the user community to no end.
So why talk about it then? Because that which failed at retail release often makes a fine and interesting retro collectible and the A570 is no exception.
If you have an Amiga 500 and have the chance to grab an A570 (uncommon though they are) then do so. It’s a cheap way to get into some great CDTV software and games like the CDTV release of Xenon, a game possessed of some of the most rocking soundtrack music ever. That’s right, ever.
The A570 simply bolts directly into the side of your Amiga 500 via the Zorro II expansion port on the left side of the Amiga, zero configuration required – true plug-and-play!
With the A570 attached, your humble A500 will boot to the CDTV animated logo screen. I’m willing to admit straight up that this is freaking awesome to see on screen. I remember as a kid seeing this logo on CDTV systems advertised in Amiga magazines and thinking how awesome it would be to own a CDTV. These days with the prohibitive price and scarcity of working CDTV systems, this is the closest I’ll likely ever come!
There are a few downsides to the A570 design. First up, it needs its own power supply to run, and not just any PSU, but the lovable Amiga ‘brick’. The exact same brick in fact, as the Amiga 500 itself. While this means you have to run both power supplies to keep an Amiga and A570 running, if you happen to find a CDROM drive without a power supply and have a spare A500 PSU, you can use that to power it. The other downside, is the devices use of CDROM caddys.
“CDROM what now?” I hear you say. Believe it or not, in the early days of CD ROM media, some devices required that you put your CD into a plastic caddy before inserting it into the drive. Pain in the arse? Hell yes. Capable of driving you to madness when you can’t find a caddy anywhere? You better believe it.
I’m looking forward to chasing down some ISO images of CDTV software to play around with and going through what will no doubt be the arduous task of finding the right media settings for burning said images to CD. For now though, I have a handful of original games and discs to muck around with. The gem of the bunch is the Assassin’s Ultimate Games CD compilation. A disc packed with 600 MB of public domain games and programs for the Amiga (some made in AMOS, some not) the CD has hours of entertainment stuffed into its easy to navigate menus. Highly recommended if you end up with an A570.