Before the land of internet, this was information at your fingertips. Hours were spent trawling page after page of Ceefax, Oracle/Teletext. Now it’s all but dead after the Teletext signal was switched off yesterday with Ceefax due to follow suit once the Digital switchover is complete in 2012.
I could read a page of text in about 10-20 seconds, and then you’d have to sit there for another minute waiting for the page to turn. Hours/days of my life wasted in front of teletext.
Back then it was just as addictive as today’s numerous email checks, especially on a Saturday afternoon: “watching teletext” for the latest football scores. It seems absurd now that I’d sit there, watching a black screen (for an hour and a half) in the hope that when the page next ‘turned’ your team had scored and I could punch the air in triumph (and then you’d have to wait another 5 minutes for the pages to turn again until you found out who’d scored).
For Teletext you needed patience, lots of it, especially during mid-week football matches. I’d annoy the family and flash up teletext constantly throughout tv shows. Making them watch the TV through that text ‘mix’ you could do – making the black background transparent and instead, having the text imposed over Coronation Street or whatever TV show they were watching. I was an absolute nuisance of the highest order!
The Paramount Comedy channel had letters/jokes pages, 40 odd pages of them, which I used to sit through and watch at 2am in the morning after finishing a shift in the pub. It took about an hour (I honestly had nothing better to do). The highlight of my teletexting life peaked in about 97/98 when I got a joke published on their joke pages. Actually, this remains the highlight of my life to date.
‘Digitiser’ was on Channel 4 and read daily for all the computer games reviews. Then there was my old friend Bambler Boozler and Bamboozle who lived at “390” also on Channel 4. Many hours were spent in front of this absolute frustrating, yet addictive quiz and arguing with my brother about the correct answer; (where getting a question wrong on page 9 – after starting 15 minutes earlier – would mean having to go back to page 1 and starting again) :
“It’s green. Green. Press the green buttooooonnn. GREEEEEEEEEEEEEN you knob” He presses red and gets it wrong.
…and then the remote would get launched at the wall (that’s why there was sellotape wrapped all over it to keep it together).
Teletext, you may be (almost) gone forever, but you won’t be forgotten.
*solemnly doffs a cap*