23rd September 1974. Remember Ceefax?


Ceefax Page of 5th October.2008.

One problem of the analogue and then digital age is trying to keep up to the mark with the diverse company brands and the obsolescent technology. The result is boxes full of kit, leads and other paraphernalia.

None more so than with television. It started with the on-screen text and crude block graphics, information pages Today in 1974, when we saw the original release of BBC Ceefax.

The new system exploited ‘spare lines’ on the then analogue televisions, which encoded information to be read by the small number of TV receivers then able to receive it.

Then came a European and Global standard in 1970s between the BBC, and ITA, which had started their Oracle service.

Final Oracle

Final Oracle page, replaced by Teletext 1.1.1993.

The new service stimulated increased demand in the 1980s for the new televisions able to receive Ceefax and Oracle, so we could now, by pressing the Text Button, access information from the stock market to the weather.


Teletext supplanted Oracle.

However TV and other technology was fast changing, from analogue to the digital age. Teletext ended midnight the end of December 2009.

Ceefax went in 2012 with the final digital switch-over at the BBC Belfast ‘Divis’ Transmitter, the last to disable analogue, almost 76 years to the night, when BBC TV began at Alexander Palace, London, on 2nd November 1936.(1)

What replaced it? Well we now saw the digital Freeview (Terrestrial); Sky Digital and Freesat (Satellite): BT Vision and Virgin Media(Cable), with faster images and data rates.

Back in September 1999 we saw BBC Text, more advanced than Ceefax, by having increased interface and a photo provision, and also allowed split-screen, Channel Association. But no ‘digi-boxes’ or receivers to decode signals, were much available, and it was superseded in 2001 to 2008, by BBCi.(2)

In May 2004 BBC Web was renamed bbc.co.uk, its main URL (Domain Name).

From 2008 there was a gradual drop of BBCi from Digital Interactive TV. Renamed Red Button, it simply re-directs to another Channel.

(1a) On Tuesday October 23rd 2012.

(1b) The analogue spectrum was reassigned to 4G LTE mobile broadband.

(2) The i standing for interactive or innovation. It was a sister channel to the rest of BBC output: Channels 1-4; News; Parliament; CBBC and CBeebies.

Ref: wikipedia.org/bbc_red_button.

Ref: forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.

Ref: theguardian.com/media/gallery. 16.7.2009.

Ref: wikipedia.org/wik/ceefax.

Ref: teletext.mb21.co.uk/gallery/oracle.

Ref: the register.co.uk/2012.10.23/bbc_closes_down_ceefax.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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