Welcome, teletext fanatics! I'll just leave this here...

Thursday, 20 December 2007

More Teletextery

Newsflash! The Isle of Wight has finally got teletext. According to one resident,
"I can’t believe that the information revolution can go any further than this."

Not that the IOW is behind the times or anything. Thanks to Newsbiscuit for that 'story'.

From the depths of the Internet's formative years comes MrDaveo's distinctly 1990s webpage on Digitiser. More proof that the cult spread far and wide across the land, beamed into the front rooms of tens, nay thousands of television owners. That purple text is beginning to hurt my eyes.

Elsewhere, Mr Tanilsoo has another edition of his Estonian teletext up at Youtube:

From one of these news stories at least, it seems some parts of Estonian society are a little bit 'anti-digital'. Good on them.

And finally, I have to admit I was a 'ziner'. That is, I sent at least one letter to the Mega Zine, a surreal pre-Internetisation forum. Much like Digitiser this had a cult following but was created by its readers rather than an editorial team. It was the definitive teletext magazine service but It's all disappeared now. Everyone has moved to the Internet.

Pong Blogger

Pong is a strangely addictive game. I've been doing some experiments with the game engine in Flash recently and decided to put them into a blog format. The result is Pong Blogger, which you might like.

Monday, 10 December 2007


The design for ceefax.tv is plainly and blatantly ripped from Google's. From what I can gather the two are not connected in any other way than the ceefax.tv search engine matches Google's, page layout wise.

And what better way to apply a search engine to a teletext system? It knocks the socks off the old Telesoftware search function (maybe, depending on your opinion) because it's much more advanced. That said, the premise is very simple: enter a keyword and you get some results grabbed from the teletext service that day. So, if you can't be bothered looking through the number entry menu for, say, Gordon Brown, just put his name into the search engine and you get a bunch of news stories. You can also use the traditional three-digit method if you like. The latter brings the page straight up in a popup window which inlcudes some clickable hyperlinks.

In other words, this is a Ceefax website. This is the opposite of a Google webpage put into teletext (right). I wonder what the web would be like if it were all teletext? Not being old enough to remember, let alone use, Viewdata, I can only imagine. Would be an interesting project to transpose some famous websites (such as Google) into the teletext aesthetic.

Online teletext archiving - Digitiser

Digitiser is a service that used to run on Channel 4's Teletext service. It was a video game magazine service that 'revelled in controversy' but was massively popular. It was a website before its time: a daily digest of news, opinion and reviews including a user feedback section. There was even an 'Ask Mr. T' bit!

This site is an archive of some of these pages. I read on the mailing list that all pages are kept in an official archive, at least for BBC, but I've yet to find any confirmation of this online. The site, by 'Moleman', is a fan created resource for nostalgics: the serviced finished in 2003 as part of the phasing out of teletext systems.

The service, which had a cult following, is now dead and the creators and users have dispersed, many to the Internet. Mr Biffo, one of the creators, now has his own blog whilst there are loads of tribute websites all over the net.
There are many interesting aspects... For one thing, they're not trying to be 'worthy', or communitarian. They're not being right-on, saying come over to us and be exclusive and culty. Fans who write in and attempt to creep in a supercilious way are liable to get the biggest kicking of the lot. And yet - the fans they do come. These pages probably get more 'readership' than any print magazine, and not just because they're free. And not either because they're trying to 'get in with the kids' in a patronising way. I reckon some of it goes right over the heads of most of their audience; it's not being 'clever', it's simply not being condescending and lowest-common-denominator. They expect their readers to have a little intelligence.

Brave New World

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Teletext specifications - links

Information on the general specifications of teletext pages.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Breaking the barriers

Every so often the teletext coders became more adventurous and pushed the envelope with their designs.

This is weird, I don't know how they did it but somehow the page is flipped horizontally. I can't read the thing but it mentions smarty pants coders.

This is included for no other reason than I like it. It's very eighties/nineties but I do think it looks more attractive than anything on Ceefax now.

And finally a nice piece of text art from the coders. From 2000, when the BBC website was up and running.

Source: Teletext then and Now

Commercial teletext art

On special occasions, Ceefax used to have commemorative/decorative pixel art pages.

This very purple page is from Ceefax's Wimbledon coverage. Compare to the digital teletext version and it looks very low tech. Snazzy, though.

Graphs aren't used much on teletext any more but this page from Oracle in the 1980s is a diagram for motorway delays. Inventive if basic manipulation of the format.

An old Fun and Games page. Now defunct, this used to be the most fun part of teletext, containing tacky quizzes and puzzles that could be completed in a commercial break. Nice little image of a lighthouse but I don't know the relevance of it.

Source: Teletext Then and Now

Weather Watch part 2

More from the history of teletext as defined by weather forecast pages.

This map from Oracle in 1977 displays a possible weathermap layout for a regional forecast. To my knowledge nothing like this was ever implemented and the test status of the page is indicated by the text: "regional weather forecast could use maps like this one".

And this is the national weather map from the same page set. Note the colour clash and different map to the Ceefax one.

This is a humorous map from an Oracle page in 1989. This must have been phased out pretty quickly as I don't remember it. The humour seems to have largely gone from commercial teletext - it has become serious.

2000s, an interactive TV map from Teletext including television icons. Note the JPEG advertisements.

Compare this to a 1996 televised broadcast of the weather including a satellite image of Britain. On teletext, Michael Fish's place is taken by some text.

Source: Teletext Then and Now