Skip

Goodbye Cruel World
October 23, 2012 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Ceefax, the world's first teletext information service will be turned off today.

Long beloved in the UK in the pre-internet age for the weather, football results, lottery numbers, news and classified ads; it inspired affection, love letters and art,

It goes not gently into the good night, but instead somewhat grumpily.

Previously.
posted by arcticseal (45 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ceefax.
Ceefax not run.
posted by Kabanos at 8:08 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]




Those rainy saturday afternoons of my youth, of repeatedly excitedly waiting for the League Division One latest football scores page number to cycle round and the page to refresh, to see if Aston Villa had scored a goal since the last refresh.

They very rarely did.

I hate football now.
posted by Wordshore at 8:13 AM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I used to spend endless amounts of time on that when I used to visit the UK. As it kid, it seemed like The Future(tm)!

An amazing number of Ceefax pages are available on youtube.
Some with jazzy music.
Some with breaking news...
posted by madajb at 8:13 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You already can't get ceefax in digital-only areas, but the few pages they showed on the breakfast show today included livestock auction prices and what apples were in season. Neither of which I could find on red button, I WANT MY LICENCE FEE BACK
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:17 AM on October 23, 2012


.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:20 AM on October 23, 2012


I guess this means the end for Private Eye's regular "ceefux" item too.
posted by chavenet at 8:21 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an expat Canadian, I only discovered the wonders of Ceefax and "teletext" systems recently. I am sad to see them go.

.

Thankfully Ceephax Acid Crew marches on. Okay so he just took his name from ceefax and he's British and yeah that's the only link but he's awesome.
posted by sixohsix at 8:23 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

:(
posted by Joh at 8:24 AM on October 23, 2012


.

I lived in England for a couple of years in the early 80s. Ceefax was the future then.
posted by immlass at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


R.I.P.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


.

The last time I ran into Ceefax was while visiting family in the UK back in 2005. My great-aunt and -uncle, whom we were staying with for part of the trip, used Ceefax seemingly all the time, mostly to check on the cricket scores. (Whether they used it that often regularly, or if they were just using it to keep abreast of the Ashes which were ongoing at the time, I'm not sure.) I thought it was fairly neat. However, when my younger cousins came over, they seemed basically embarrassed by the whole thing; to them, Ceefax was laughably old-fashioned, literally something that only old people used.

But I thought it was effective in serving its purpose, and less distracting than to have a TV tuned to a satellite/cable sports or news channel constantly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:38 AM on October 23, 2012


My folks took a few holidays thanks to the last minute travel deals posted on Ceefax. I know they'll be sad to see it go.
posted by arcticseal at 8:45 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite owning laptop, smart phone, digital radio, etc, my dad still always had this on for the football scores every Saturday afternoon. It has been a constant presence in my life.
posted by ninebelow at 8:53 AM on October 23, 2012


p. 105 1/3
I shall
[...]
p. 105 2/3
miss it
[...drinks tea...]
p. 105 3/3
sometimes.
posted by jaduncan at 9:02 AM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]



______ _________ _______ 
(  ____ )\__   __/(  ____ )
| (    )|   ) (   | (    )|
| (____)|   | |   | (____)|
|     __)   | |   |  _____)
| (\ (      | |   | (      
| ) \ \_____) (___| )      
|/   \__/\_______/|/       
                           
 _______  _______  _______  _______  _______               
(  ____ \(  ____ \(  ____ \(  ____ \(  ___  )|\     /|     
| (    \/| (    \/| (    \/| (    \/| (   ) |( \   / )     
| |      | (__    | (__    | (__    | (___) | \ (_) /      
| |      |  __)   |  __)   |  __)   |  ___  |  ) _ (       
| |      | (      | (      | (      | (   ) | / ( ) \      
| (____/\| (____/\| (____/\| )      | )   ( |( /   \ )   _ 
(_______/(_______/(_______/|/       |/     \||/     \|  (_)


posted by MuffinMan at 9:03 AM on October 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


My folks took a few holidays thanks to the last minute travel deals posted on Ceefax.

Well, that would strictly be Teletext, not Ceefax. Teletext was the medium, Ceefax the BBC's resolutely non-commercial transmissions over that medium. Teletext Holidays was a bunch of pages broadcast on ITV or Channel4.

Of course, the analogue switch off would be the death-knell for all Teletext services, although I'm not sure if any other than Ceefax were still going. Many have long since transitioned to the digital equivalent.
posted by phl at 9:07 AM on October 23, 2012


In fact, it looks like Teletext Holidays has migrated to the web.
posted by phl at 9:12 AM on October 23, 2012


Ceefax sits in my memory alongside my dad listening to Radio 4 on the old Grundig valve radio on the shelf which is why I'm sad to hear of it's demise.
posted by arcticseal at 9:13 AM on October 23, 2012


... and there's an Apple announcement today too... hmmm....coincidence, I think not!
I'm already looking forward to the insanely great tm new iCeefaxtm service.
posted by silence at 9:13 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

One of my fondest memories of university was finding my housemate early one morning, in his bathrobe in our freezing flat, staring at the Ceefax as it updated the scores of a test match every half-minute or so. Something about it was the very soul of the UK.
posted by oneironaut at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I asked a question about this a while back on the Green - there are some good links there.

I'm sad to hear this, I'd always sort of fantasized about going back for a visit one day and playing around with it.
posted by Perthuz at 9:22 AM on October 23, 2012


I'll try not to read too much into the fact that ceefax is the same age as me.
posted by madajb at 9:27 AM on October 23, 2012


I think I've previously mentioned James Bridle's Now And Next, a web version of the Ceefax program guide.

Ah, it was in another Death of Yesterday's Future post on the demise of Minitel.
posted by zamboni at 9:31 AM on October 23, 2012


I used to read Ceefax and Teletext every day. It was a part of my morning ritual; I missed the pages I loved when they were cut, and I missed it even more when I moved to the US. RIP, Ceefax.

.
posted by TheDonF at 9:34 AM on October 23, 2012


.
posted by frijole at 10:04 AM on October 23, 2012


I remember discovering Ceefax ten years ago on my first visit to the UK. It was one of those different aspects of everyday things that caused me to feel like I was really visiting a separate culture. I feel like those aspects have decreased over the years.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Ceefax. Theefax.
posted by contraption at 10:38 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


sixohsix you took my linkage!
posted by symbioid at 10:44 AM on October 23, 2012


You already can't get ceefax in digital-only areas

I assume this is why Ceefax died today. Northern Ireland is due to switch off their analogue broadcasts tomorrow and they're the last ones.
posted by hoyland at 10:45 AM on October 23, 2012


My friend Andy invented the FasText feature where the TV cached the next likely pages and let you jump to them with the coloured buttons. Strangely, those buttons often appear to this day on remotes of devices that have no use for them, like some US TiVos and TVs.
posted by w0mbat at 10:46 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Strangely, those buttons often appear to this day on remotes of devices that have no use for them, like some US TiVos and TVs.

I think you can program those buttons to go to a specific channel. Or, at least, I had a friend with a remote where that's what they did. But he was the sort who'd read the manual.
posted by hoyland at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2012


.

(I love that they posted that Ceefax "grumpy suicide note". Very British)
posted by Bwithh at 10:55 AM on October 23, 2012


.

Fun fact that I read but can't find a cite for right now: until recently, all stories on the BBC News website were formatted so that the first two paragraphs could stand alone as a Ceefax page.
posted by anagrama at 11:12 AM on October 23, 2012


Here in the US we had nothing like Ceefax or Minitel (at least, nothing with the same reach) and I remember being super jealous when I saw teletext as a normal daily thing on French In Action.

(P.S., what font is that on the "suicide note"? Is there a clone available, or better yet, the real thing? I kind of want all of my terminals to look like that.)
posted by en forme de poire at 11:22 AM on October 23, 2012


*sigh* Is nothing sacred ?
posted by Baud at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2012


(P.S., what font is that on the "suicide note"? Is there a clone available, or better yet, the real thing? I kind of want all of my terminals to look like that.)

What you want us a BBC B Microcomputer.
posted by Artw at 12:16 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




My mum had a weird model of all-in-one Mac with a TV tuner built-in, an odd Performa model from the Gil Amelio era. It could display Ceefax and you could even select and copy text from it.
Even cooler than the BBC Micro's optional Teletext Adaptor.
posted by w0mbat at 1:08 PM on October 23, 2012


Fun fact that I read but can't find a cite for right now: until recently, all stories on the BBC News website were formatted so that the first two paragraphs could stand alone as a Ceefax page.

I noticed this from reading their RSS feed. Here's an old screenshot of it. Note that all of the headlines are awkwardly short and limited to a consistent number of characters - just under the 40 allowed on a line of Ceefax.

(Sadly doesn't seem to be the case any more)
posted by grahamparks at 3:20 PM on October 23, 2012


Ceefax goes. Goodbye.
posted by Wordshore at 4:04 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


.

all stories on the BBC News website were formatted so that the first two paragraphs could stand alone as a Ceefax page

They're still formatted for the "red button" text service. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology they often manage to miss out some words from the story at the point where a page break occurs in a multi-page story. Maybe because the digital text pages show about half the amount of text of a Ceefax page.
posted by philipy at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2012


Haven't used it for a while, but page 120 (Now and Next) was a part of my life for quite some time.

Back in the older days, my dad bought a Teletext set-top-box so we could receive it on an old television. It worked terribly, but the faux-wood effect was pretty cool.
posted by alan2001 at 9:45 AM on October 24, 2012


The Guardian's Barney Ronay on the death of Ceefax. Excerpt:
Sometimes though technology simply dies a natural death, outmoded by other, newer technology. This is pretty much what has happened to teletext – also known variously as Ceefax, Oracle or The One On Channel 4 – which died this week after 38 years of service, much of it related to coverage of sport. The original horse-drawn internet, Ceefax is finally no more: a brilliantly cheap, brilliantly simple, hugely successful piece of technology that somehow seemed to age at triple-speed.

There was some excitement on the day after Ceefax's final page, a kind of suicide note ("I have been frozen out, another victim of BBC ageism") as though – ha ha – there actually had been a death. This seems an unnecessary lightening of a what is a genuine moment of machine-bereavement, the disappearance for ever of the hidden robot face behind your TV screen.

It will be a source of minor sadness for anybody who came to rely on that discreet but authoritative presence during those analogue years when, pre-rolling news, TV text had an absolute monopoly on these things. It was all so beautifully simple. Ceefax came in three formats. There. Not there. Or the upsetting and unnecessary "mix", which produced a horrible melding of overlaid text and TV pictures, based around an idea that it might be agreeable to "watch" Ceefax and moving pictures simultaneously, creating a kind of nightmare cyborg world of spectral floating league tables and walking babbling human beings, faces obscured by phrases like "Swindon Town" and "Michael Atherton", first unwitting victims of some strangulating football text-based robot dawn.
posted by Kattullus at 4:56 PM on October 26, 2012


« Older Sets for a film I'll never make   |   Ever wonder what happened to... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post