As the digital switchover that everyone has been sick of hearing about for well over two years now is finally complete, the UK bids a fond and well deserved farewell to the worldâs first ever teletext service, Ceefax.
For those living in the more modern times, you may find it hard to believe that this was once how a lot of people got their news and could actually be likened to the internet of its day!
Ceefax began its life all the way back in 1974 on September 23rd when BBC engineers were experimenting with methods of providing subtitles. During these experiments, they found that they could churn out pages of text in the spare lines that sat atop the analogue 625-line PAL TV signal. The BBC decided to use this to give viewers a chance to âsee the factsâ in real time as they came into the BBC news room. This was enhanced further with weather reports and the sports scores.
Pages were created by typing out the story and then printing a yard-long punched tape. This then had to be run from the sixth floor down two flights of stairs to the Central Apparatus Room which then loaded it into a tape reader before the page was at last transmitted by a device which was called a âcore storeâ. At the peak of its popularity, Ceefax had 20 million people checking the service at least once a week. Ceefax was expanded to include BBC cookery show recipes, music reviews and even an advent calendar at Christmas. All this whilst some cheery and upbeat music sang to your ears.
However, with all-day TV and a bottomless pit of information that we call the Internet, Ceefax is no longer needed but graciously, it makes way for 4G signals which paves the way for Britain to step up a notch in the technology wars. We salute you, Ceefax and farewell.
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