Thursday, 25 October 2012

See Ceefax No More

So I find to my surprise that Ceefax has been officially turned off:
BBC Ceefax, the world's first teletext service, has completed its final broadcast after 38 years on air.
Ceefax was launched on 23 September 1974 to give BBC viewers the chance to check the latest news headlines, sports scores, weather forecast or TV listings - in a pre-internet era where the only alternative was to wait for the next TV or radio bulletin to be aired. 
I say surprising not least because I wasn't aware it was still running.  Indeed, during my entire time as a student (under- and postgrad) I never owned a TV and rarely watched one, and I pretty much forgot the whole concept of teletext existed.  I guess it's like returning home and finding that one of the playgrounds of your youth that'd faded from your mind was torn down and rebuilt; makes you feel old.

Ceefax was ultimately done in by the transition to digital TV, but the rise of the internet and 3G phones helped supplant it too.  I remember using Ceefax and its ITV competitors a fair amount back in the mid-90s.   It let you follow sports scores live when Sky had bought the rights, or just keep an eye on the headlines as you wished; so trivial today but not then  Ceefax also used to have primitive games, mostly quizzes I think, and I remember playing them with my brother.

Oddly, I think he used the service more overall but there's no doubt I spend more time online these days.

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