The time a Commodore CDTV disc proved its worth as something other than a coaster

What's that coming over the hill? Is it a CD? Is it a CD?

On Call Welcome to On Call, our weekly dip into the seemingly bottomless pool of user, er, difficulties, told by the unfortunates who are sat at the other end of the telephone.

Today's tale comes from a reader we shall call "Peter", who had the thankless task of answering the telephone calls from users of a certain ISP.

It was, Peter told us, "many years ago, at the dawn of time it feels like" and was in the era of every ISP having its own access software.

"These were the days of 28,800 baud modems, dial up and CD ROMs sent to customers to install the service," explained Peter.

While we've no doubt that the use of "baud" rather than, say, "bits per second", may cause some discussion and the odd case of spontaneous combustion, Peter's story involves the software on the CD rather than US Robotics' finest.

On the day in question, Peter received a call from a customer who "told me he'd inserted the CD but all that was happening was a weird noise".

He told The Reg: "Having checked if the CD was cracked, dirty, any problems using other disks, etc I'd almost drawn a blank."

"Then," said Peter, "I remembered some time before that experimenting with an Amiga CDTV disc in my HiFi and the sound being like a high speed Nine Inch Nails track."

CDTV was Commodore's take on a multimedia appliance, comprising an Amiga 500 and CD-ROM drive packaged in a living-room friendly black box and launched nearly 30 years ago. It sank without a trace, and was succeeded by the Amiga CD32 which also, alas, met an unfortunate end along with Commodore itself.

We remember the days of the never-ending supply of drinks coasters well. After popping in a CD from the cover of a well-known PC-favouring magazine and expecting to discover the latest and greatest Ameol client or a handy copy of WinZip, the latest emission from musician Sheryl Crow blasted from the speakers instead. The CD duplicators had mislabelled the disc.

Could this be the same thing?

Remembering the noise emitted from the HiFi when the CDTV disc was played, Peter carefully asked the customer if they were actually using, you know, a PC?

"We don't have one."


Ever spent hours on a phone to a user, only to find the silliest solution was actually the correct one? Of course you have, and you should send an email to On Call so all may learn from your example. ®

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