After 38 years on air, BBC Ceefax has shown its last broadcast.
Ceefax, the world’s first teletext service, began its end in 2007 in conjunction with the digital switchover, disappearing in areas as they lost their analogue TV signal, with Northern Ireland receiving the final broadcast on 23rd October.
The service, phonetic for “see facts,” began in 1974, allowing BBC viewers to check news headlines, TV listings, sports scores and weather forecasts all updated in real-time, a faster way of keeping up-to-date compared to the only other option, which was to await the next TV or radio bulletin. It was developed when BBC engineers who were working on providing subtitles for views with hearing issues discovered that they could transmit full screens of text information, in the spare lines of analogue TV signal.
Though it had a slow usage rate from viewers at first, things picked up when BBC TV began showing a collection of Ceefax pages with music playing before programming started each day. Called Ceefax AM initially, the “programme” ran for over 30 years, ending only a few days before Ceefax’s closure.
Having revolutionised the way people accessed information back in the ’70s, its shut down shows how far we’ve come with technology, specifically the Internet in the last 10 years. No longer do we have to enter three digits on our TV remotes for up-to-date information. Everything Ceefax provided, as well as a wide range of other types of info can be accessed from a large spectrum of devices in far greater detail, from TVs, to phones, to tablets, desktops, laptops and more.
Its successors, the red button services found on many channels today have built upon its foundations well, growing more complex, to the point where every multiple feeds, from simultaneous sports during the Olympics, to concurrent matches at Wimbledon were able to be watched live, all from the red button.
Regardless, many have paid tribute to the iconic service, from former Prime Minister John Major to Gary Lineker, all recalling fond memories of their time with Ceefax. You can view its final moments over at BBC News.