in Technology

Teletext archeology

Jason Robertson’s talk on recovering teletext pages from videotapes is fascinating. Teletext was magical in the pre-Internet days. I had no idea that the service went back to the early 1970s. There is a searchable archive of pages that have been recovered. I love this preservation of ephemeral digital artefacts.

I remember purchasing a discounted Morley Teletext Adapter for my BBC Micro with the idea that I would download software that was embedded in the UK analogue TV signals. I struggled as I had to use an indoor aerial which gave relatively terrible results. (I don’t remember asking my parents to get a second aerial cable installed, but I am pretty sure they would have said no.) By the time I had bought the adapter I had missed the boat as telesoftware broadcasts had stopped. Still, it was fun to go digging around in the depths of the pages, using my computer keyboard to input the hexadecimal page numbers that were impossible with a TV remote control. Until I watched this video, I hadn’t realised that I might have been able to stumble across someone accessing services such as ‘online’ banking. Amazing.

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