With the digital takeover completing in Northern Ireland this week with it comes the end of an era.
It seems in this digital, high speed connection, ‘press red button ’ world there simply isn’t a place for hitting 3 digits into your remote control and waiting an indiscriminate amount of time for a page to load. Whether you were checking the latest scores, the news headlines, the weather, or your lottery numbers you could always count on Ceefax - but not anymore.
That’s why we’re celebrating the legacy of Ceefax in all its tele-textual glory in this week’s FACTS…
FACT 1: Ceefax was the first teletext service in the world and began in 1974 by the BBC, it ran for 38 years.
FACT 2: Ceefax took its name as it is the phonetic pronouncement of ‘See Facts’.
FACT 3: Ceefax development began in the late 1960s. Engineer Geoff Larkby and technician Barry Pyatt were working on a text transmission system with the object of transmitting printable pages of text during the ‘close down’ time of transmission in the night, but the early incarnations of Ceefax were shelved.
FACT 4: The concept was picked up again in October 1972 when BBC engineers were working on ways to provide on screen subtitles to the deaf and found it was possible to transmit full pages of text information within the ‘spare lines’ of an analogue TV signal.
FACT 5: Before the internet was a household name it was intended that people would be able to receive breaking news stories as they came into the BBC newsroom via the Ceefax service.
FACT 6: On the launch of Ceefax veteran journalist Colin McIntyre, the BBC’s former UN correspondent was the first editor of the service and he updated the first 24 news pages on his own.
FACT 7: When it launched Ceefax wasn’t a mainstream interest as only a small amount of the TVs in the UK were capable of displaying it, but popularity gradually increased especially when the BBC began showing a selection of Ceefax pages during night-time hours along with music. These night-time Ceefax ‘programmes’ ran for 30 years with broadcasts continuing on BBC Two until 2012. The BBC also received regular requests for where people could purchase the Ceefax music.
FACT 8: The team who developed the Ceefax service were honoured with a Queen’s Award for innovation in 1983.
FACT 9: Ceefax audiences peaked in the 1990s when there were 20 million viewers who would regularly check it at least once a week.
FACT 10: In 1994 a newsflash was mistakenly broadcast on Ceefax saying that the Queen Mother had died (she died in 2002) the message was put up accidently during a rehearsal and was removed after 30 seconds. However it was seen by the public and the BBC had to issue an apology.
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