The history of teletext in 18 minutes

Originally published at: The history of teletext in 18 minutes | Boing Boing


Would it have a delay as it cycles through the pages until it reaches the one you want?


Depending on its local buffer, it might already have that one.

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The local buffer would be like interference, causing you to miss the update and turning the text into gafulx£#%

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The close cousin to this was (is?) the French Minitel system. It was a genuine marvel of telecommunication services that never made it beyond France, as far as I know. But the French were banking and buying plane tickets “online” long before the web existed.


Grandmother Jane Snowball, 72, sat down in an armchair in her Gateshead home in May 1984, picked up a television remote control and used it to order the groceries from her local supermarket.

She was part of a council initiative to help the elderly. What she - and everyone else with her at the time - didn’t realise was that her simple shopping list was arguably the world’s first home online shop.


Was, I’m afraid. The system finally went offline in 2012.

It was a wonderful proto-internet technology. It had solutions for e-commerce, micropayments and an early e-mail system, all long before they were widely adopted anywhere else.

The UK’s equivalent technology was PRESTEL, which never achieved the same level of adoption because of much higher up-front and ongoing charges, a lack of the wholehearted support that the French gave to their system, and cannibalisation of its market from the simpler teletext service.


Originally yes, but then it was updated with Fasttext that cached pages on your TV and also provided four coloured hyperlinks to other pages which were also held in the cache. Pressing the appropriate coloured button on the remote took you to the new page.

There were some ingenious features on Teletext in the UK, including quizzes where you used the coloured buttons to choose between options and try to reach the end. It was also the best place to find last minute cheap holidays on ‘Teletext Holidays’ And then there was the Digitiser games news over on ITV Oracle.


Yes, yes I think it might.


Came here to post this, I used to connect to Prestel from a BBC Model B with my 1200/75 baud modem back around 1983/84. Can’t recall most of the content I used to browse (realising at age 53 that I’m somewhat ADD/ADHD has explained a lot about my episodic memory) but this page brought a lot back:

On the Teletext front, I’ve worked in broadcast video hardware/software design and support since 1990, and I recall teaching some of my Canadian colleagues how Teletext decoding worked. They thought I was joking. Mind you all they had at the time was US style line 21 closed captioning…

Age? Pah, 'tis but a number :grin:


Fond memories of teletext, my goto daily visits were Planet Sound and Digitiser.

Kleenex kitchen towels and teletext TV
My favourite inventions of the twentieth century


Have you contributed to the latest “Digitiser The Show 2” kickstarter? If you hurry you can still get a lock of Mr Biffo’s hair.

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And let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you? They seem to be doing well though, they’ve already met most of their stretch goals so you get real life Street Fighter II special moves and the the world’s most beautiful boy.
To my eternal shame i never watched the first one so i should rectify that.


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