Tuesday 20 November 2018

Video: The world’s first ever teletext service Ceefax taken off the air as UK goes fully digital

The mock Ceefax page being circulated online.
The mock Ceefax page being circulated online.
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

CEEFAX, the world’s first teletext service, went off the air at 11.30pm last night after 38 years on the BBC.

Teletext was invented by BBC engineers who were attempting to find a way to broadcast subtitles for those with hearing difficulties.

During the research they discovered it was possible to broadcast full pages of text over the ‘spare lines’ of the analogue signal.

However, as the last of the analogue signal was switched off in Belfast last night, Ceefax became one of the victim’s of the digital switchover.

The service was named ‘Ceefax’ by the BBC as it was intended that viewers would be able to ‘see the facts’ of any story quickly.

At its peak, the service was checked by over 20m people in the UK every week – as before the rise of the internet it was the source of news, recipes from cooking shows and TV listings.

A mock picture circulated on social media saw the service sign off with a letter to viewers, claiming that its shutting down represented another example of ageism at the BBC.

“By the time you read this, I will be dead”, the letter began. “When I started out in 1974, I was the future. But what once seemed cutting-edge is now regarded as hopelessly old-fashioned.”

The letter continued: “I can’t take it any more. It’s a struggle to get up for the nightshift, and my poor pixels are tired. My friend Oracle said it would end like this.”

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