I don’t know if this post is showing my age, but does anyone remember Teletex? In Australia specifically it was called Austext and was available on select TVs during the 90s and early 2000s, before finally being shut down officially in 2009. So, what was Teletext and why does it hold such a place in my heart? Let’s find out.
What was Teletext?
Teletext as invented in Britain in the early 1970s. It’s primary initial purpose was to be a newsfeed to update people in real time regarding news and sports between news bulletins. It did this via sending text and simple geometric shapes via the use of vertical blanking interval lines. It basically just looked like a TV channel dedicated to pixel art. By 1982 there were around 2 million TV sets across the UK with Teletext functionality inbuilt, meaning all you had to do to access this live feed was press the corresponding button on your remote for up-to-date news. This was pretty revolutionary at the time, where news came at far less frequent intervals and things like Google were still many years away.
Other counties soon jumped onto the Teletext bandwagon. It expanded all over the place like France, North America, Japan and eventually, Australia.
Austext was Australia’s Teletext service, based out of Brisbane Australia. It began broadcasting in 1982 and was looked after by the Seven Network, transmitting all across Australia. It features news, financial information, weather, lottery, results, a TV guide and other elements such as closed captions. But of course, as a child, my favourite section was the kid’s section. In this section, it would show a variety of pixel art selections and my younger brother, and I would play a game where we would try and guess the next one to show up. (This was during the times of dial up children, it was rough back then I assure you.)
But alas, with technology changing and improving, after 20 years the internet had begun to grove in accessibility, leaving Teletext mostly redundant. On September 30 2009 the Austext service officially shut down. The network states this was due to technology coming to the end of its lifecycle, and with newer technology, it isn’t viable to replace it. Additionally, due to it being a free service, there was also no way to commercialize it, further adding to its redundancy in a vastly more commercialized world.
So, while I can’t see Teletext ever returning to its former glory, it certainly did a lot of great things for the legacy of news transmission, heralding in the era of 24/7 news availably we now have today. Additionally, it also was an early provider of closed captioning services on free to air TV, which still continues today for deaf or hard of hearing individuals.
So, that was a trip down memory lane to explore Teletext!
Did you ever use the Austext service in Australia? Share your favourite memories in the comments below. And before you go, why not check out the rest of our awesome Tech posts right here! Or even, hop on over to our YouTube channel to learn even more about PC Tech from us!