Press reveal for joke!
June 21, 2004 10:02 AM   Subscribe

The Ceefax teletext service is essentially the same now as when the BBC developed it in 1973, and is still used across Europe. Absurd, outmoded and wonderfully British, old bean.
posted by Pretty_Generic (25 comments total)
Teletext is great, it provides services like subtitles and many VCRs in europe use it for making sure the recording starts on time and ends on time when program times change. I love it, because it provides me news and program information faster than looking it up on the internet.
posted by sebas at 10:09 AM on June 21, 2004

Ceefax is indeed very European.

Personally, I hate subtitles on Sky because they don't look right. How bad is that? ;)
posted by twine42 at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2004

Does anyone else notice that the screenshots look a lot like the old DOS ISP Prodigy? Did anyone else even have that online service?
posted by ALongDecember at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2004

I miss digitiser.
posted by TheCuriousOrange at 10:28 AM on June 21, 2004

We all do.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:28 AM on June 21, 2004

Mr Biffo
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2004

Well now, believe it or not we had a version of Ceefax here in the states back in the early 1980s. So long ago that I barely remember it, but I was a beta tester for the Keyfax system, which piggybacked on the over the air signal of WFLD television in Chicago. Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the TV station (along with the Suntimes newspaper) in 1984 is credited for killing the teletext system. His contention: "I do not believe that tomorrow's newspaper will be delivered on a TV screen." If he only knew...

Since decoder boxes weren't available at that time, they delivered a 25" Zenith color television with the teletext built in for me to "test" - SWEET! Back then I found the service of limited use, as it seemed to take forever for the text to download from the OTA signal.

Of course this was also the era of 300 baud computer modems, so I didn't complain much.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:39 AM on June 21, 2004

some light music
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:39 AM on June 21, 2004

ALongDecember, we used to rock The Prodigy at 300 baud on a C64.
posted by yerfatma at 10:58 AM on June 21, 2004

Wow, I lost track of Biffo after bubblegun stopped updating. Nice to know he's doing well and I hope his sitcom gets made.
posted by TheCuriousOrange at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2004

ALongDecember, Prodigy was my first ISP, in, oh, 1992 or 1993. Kids these days don't know how good they have it!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:21 AM on June 21, 2004

Many people I know still use teletext. And absurdly some of them check the news from the web-version of our national broadcasting company's teletext. They also have news pages, but people seem to "like" the teletext "interface" better???
posted by hoskala at 11:29 AM on June 21, 2004

Digitiser is to Teletext as Revolver is to pop music - the perfect embodiment of its medium.

There was an attempt to bring it to the internet, as a standalone site, wasn't there? I remember having to pick my tv-set style and stuff. Or am I going mad?
posted by Blue Stone at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2004

I have no idea what you people are talking about, but I love it.
posted by loquax at 11:49 AM on June 21, 2004

I remember prodigy... I was NSXV86A. (This of course was long before the internet was available "exclusively on prodigy" [sic, from their advertising].
posted by dmd at 12:18 PM on June 21, 2004

I first discovered computer pr0n on either Prodigy or Compuserv. I'll even admit that I tried AOL back when they had a shitty DOS client and gopher access.

Speaking of the Old Days, are there any public telnet sites with BBS door games around?
posted by cmonkey at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2004

My current knackered telly doesn't have teletext - do they still have the quiz Bamboozle on fourtext? I have fond memories of that (as well as Digitiser, with Mr Biffo (now an Edge columnist).

(BTW, I have never heard anyone say 'old bean' on this sceptered isle, for what it's worth.)
posted by influx at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2004

It looks like prodigy because they both use(d) NAPLPS
posted by cameldrv at 12:56 PM on June 21, 2004

There was a really poorly implemented teletext system on the cable at my parents' house. The only reason I knew about it was that my folks had a TV that could decode teletext. I found the system while screwing around with the remote. It was really cool to be the only one to have it, until I realized that it had no useful or interesting content.
posted by dogwelder at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2004

Prodigy still exists, at least as just a "branding". Friend of mine is a UNIX systems admin for P* (as he calls it) and SBC.
posted by mrbill at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2004

The Digitiser bloke now writes for Edge magazine; there are rumours of financial meltdown at Teletext; anyone remember the adapter for the BBC B+ that let you download programs from Ceefax? I never did get that to work.
posted by bonaldi at 1:58 PM on June 21, 2004

Ahh, glad to see some Prodigy users here. I was like 6 when I used it, so I loved the Sesame Street area (with PC speaker music and all!)

Oh, and I was ABYN40A.
posted by ALongDecember at 6:01 PM on June 21, 2004

Austext is still going as strong as it ever was in Australia on Channel 7. I use it frequenly for news when I can't be bothered turning on a PC, or checking Google News on my mobile phone.
posted by krisjohn at 10:50 PM on June 21, 2004

It's worth pointing out that in the UK, Teletext (capital T) is the company that provides teletext (small t) services to channels 3, 4 and 5. Ceefax serves the BBC channels.

there are rumours of financial meltdown at Teletext
Much of Teletext's income comes from advertising, and much of that is travel advertising. The travel industry still hasn't recovered from 9/11 and Teletext's problems have occurred as a result.
I was working there at the time and still remember the email that went round just after lunch that day about 'a plane crash in New York' - they have banners at the bottom of news stories which have to be removed if they clash with the story - eg flights at the bottom of plane crash stories, loans at the bottom of financial stories etc. Then in the following weeks hearing stories about clients attempting to claim refunds because many of the banners were pulled, or getting reductions because their business had been affected.
posted by etc at 2:59 AM on June 22, 2004

dng, from Monkeyfilter kindly emailed me in response to my post, above, regarding Digitiser on the web - there was one! I didn't just dream it:

"It was called Digiworld (it only lasted 8 weeks, unfortunately). It was pretty good, but they ran out of money (and Digitiser's Mr Biffo ran off after the first week).

Theres an archive here

dng's, pretty neat, Digitiser Cartoon Strip Generator.

Thanks dng.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:43 AM on June 22, 2004

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