In Praise of Ceefax - Guardian Unlimited
The clunking letters and block graphics are not cutting-edge, but Ceefax retains loyal fans. It was devised by the BBC in the 1970s to provide subtitles for the hard of hearing, using the "spare lines" that sit at the top of normal TV pictures to transmit the text. But from 1974, when it went live, Ceefax did more than subtitles - putting "the world at your fingertips" in the form of easy-to-browse pages of news, sport and information. Teletext technology was eventually copied not only by Ceefax's ITV rival Oracle but by broadcasters right across Europe. Mass appeal, though, did not come quickly - not least because the early decoders were costly. Only when, in 1980, the Beeb started filling gaps in the TV schedules with a set menu of Ceefax pages did the nation get the bug. Before long the full a la carte version was being enjoyed by millions, and the future looked bright. Recent years, however, have been less kind, and Ceefax's condition is now looking terminal. The slow death by red button continued this week, when Auntie's scalpel was applied to the specialist film, music and games pages, which were cut down and merged. Teletext seems dated not because the chance to see facts on screen is no longer valued, but because we have found new ways to do it. Like the French Minitel system, also now withering on the vine, Ceefax prefigured the internet - paving the way for a technology that would eventually overtake it, and ungratefully consign it to the past.
Laurie Sanchez and Roy Essandoh
The story of a professional footballer that responded to an advert on Teletext for players during an injury crisis. Essandoh was the only one to respond but promptly scored the goal that knocked Premier League side Leicester City out of the FA Cup.
Goes to show the extent to which advertising could reach the public's wider perception, used prior to the rise in popularity of the Internet. One could say that this would have been less likely to happen on the Internet because of the limited space on the Teletext 'server' leading to more chance of people seeing the request and thus getting a response. On the other hand, the Internet would reach a wider audience. In this case, the advert only applied to the UK due to the short timespan available, so advertising on the net wouldn't have been a massively greater advantage.