I have this inexplicable obsession with teletext, the 1970s information retrieval service. I wrote the majority of the teletext editor edit.tf and maintain the associated frame archive. This is just a place for teletext bits, including where I've tried to explain hold graphics.
The people who make it happen
For a few years now there's been a growing teletext scene. In the absence of any more information by me here, I'll list a few links.
- There are teletext artists and graphicians out there who produce teletext frames as art. Their work is varied and interesting, so, rather than comment on it, I'll just list their names in the hope you'll take a good look. In alphabetical order (!): Carl Attrill; Alistair ‘ZXGuesser’ Cree; Peter Fagan; Dan Farrimond, of the Teletext Art Research Lab; Steve ‘Horsenburger’ Horsley; Ian Irving, creator of 4-T; Jellica; Andy Jenkinson; Nikki and Bunty; Polyducks (Ben Jones) (in particular, ‘Eye See You Frodo’); Raquel Meyers.
- Paul Rose, aka Mr. Biffo, produced the legendary Digitiser. Since then he has written about video games and a lot more besides on his blog Digitiser2000, now a popular YouTube channel!
- From the technical side of the scene, Alistair Cree wrote the excellent and full-featured ZXNet teletext page editor. Peter Kwan is another guru who maintains Teefax, the community teletext service. Teefax can be viewed through Alistair's teletext viewer. He created the VBIT2, which turns a Raspberry Pi into something that a teletext TV can interpret and render. Alistair Buxton created raspi-teletext that makes this possible. Alistair (both of them!) and Peter together make possible distribution systems for teletext events.
- Jason Robertson is a master of teletext recovery. He extracts long-lost frames from old videotapes, cleans them up, and archives them for everyone to enjoy.
- Rob's teletext.org.uk and the new Viewdata Frame Database (which includes teletext frames) offer thousands of frames from teletext history as a browsable archive.
- The group Mistigris /mistiɡʁi/ is a true champion of teletext art, making monthly artpacks to this day. There are many examples also on the Tumblr.
- From the demoscene, the Bitshifters have produced some amazing teletext demos and art, among which Bad Apple stole the show at Block Party 2017 (for more on Block Party 2017, see Dan's summary).
- Frauke Langguth has long supported the teletext scene, not least by putting original art up on ARDText.
- There are art competitions too! Here's a list I'll build up: Block Party 2020, TART2020.
- Many of these people post on the the Facebook teletext group. It is very active and has hundreds of members from all across the community. The teletext subreddit is, however, awful. I'm told there's also a Discord community to get involved with, but I haven't been on there yet.
A much nicer tour of the scene can be read at Pete Fagan's Channel 26, under the titles Teletext Lives, Teletext Design and Teletext Future.
People have attempted to explain aspects of teletext and its format in blogs and videos.
- Mathias Coinchon, CTO at Radio Télévision Suisse, presents (in French) Teletext Must Not Die in March 2020 at the FIXME hackerspace.
- Ben Clifford's talk about the BBC Micro gives an intuitive idea of how control codes work and other teletext/mode 7 stuff.
- Nikki and Bunty wrote a nice description of why teletext art is so tricky. <!-- and Nikki talks about teletext art on their stream. -->
- A bit more specific to edit.tf, Carl made a very nice video tutorial for the editor.
Try it for yourself
Believe it or not, you can still use teletext and its cousins viewdata and Minitel. Here are a list of the services that I've found so far. There are of course a lot of professional services out there, and I've included a few, but here are all the amateur ones I've come across.
- Amateur teletext:
- Teefax, Chunkytext.
- Broadcast teletext:
- In German: ARDText, BR Text, hr-text, mdr-text, NDR Text, ORF, rbbtext, SRF 1, WDR Text, ZDFtext. In Dutch: NOS Teletekst. In Finnish: yle Teksti-TV, MTV. In Swedish: SVT. In Icelandic: RÚV. There are fuller directories of world teletext services at mb21 and beepworld.
- Tetrachloromethane (CCl<sub>4</sub>) (and its Torch Saga), nxtel (coming soon), TELSTAR. These are accessible via vd-view.
- Minitel (in French):
- 3614 HACKER, 3614 TEASER, and several services via the Minitel/Télétel interface at 3615co.de.