Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Before the Web, there was "Teletext"

"Ceefax," the BBC "Teletext" service, originally launched in 1974, before the emergence of the mass market Internet and the World Wide Web, has been shut down. 

First broadcast on 23 September 1974, Ceefax was built on pages of text and crude block graphics transmitted as codes embedded in unused, off-the-screen lines of the 625-line PAL TV signal. 

Some 30 pages were provided at first, each transmitted one after the other in a repeated cycle. The viewer entered the page number he or she wanted to view, and when the page came round again it was displayed on screen.

Of course, with the demise of analog broadcasting, Ceefax also became impossible, as the telextext service relied on the analog TV protocol. 

It is worth noting that interest in what we now call multimedia has achieved huge marketplace success. It's just that the platform turned out to be the World Wide Web, not the TV. 

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