The demise of CEEFAX (a play on ‘See Facts’) the first teletext database for TV viewers is sad but inevitable event. For all those facts and figures geeks it was a informative and down right addictive service that supported and inspired thinking and learning.
My particular favourites was the horse racing betting service especially the Tote which gave updated prices and figures of each competing horse after each race. Completely nerdy but so captivating. The same would go for the dog racing service that it offered and helped with my never ending search for the perfect system to use when betting at a particular greyhound meeting. Again, a pointless but thoroughly enjoyable pastime.
ORACLE was it’s biggest rival and usually cleaned up during the summer months with its never ending holiday bargains such as 14 day full board and flight to Lanzarote only £129! I know people who would sit and have the teletext on constantly until they got that special bargain holiday.
My best experience with teletext – I am not sure if it was CEEFAX or Oracle – was winning a ticket for two to see Alan Bates in ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ at the National Theatre. It was a competition aimed at the Millennium and the question was ‘What was the most important play of the 20th Century’? I sent an email back saying the Nativity play was the most important play because every actor had probably played a part in it, or words to that effect. I won the prize but never went to see the play as I was caught up in some heavy duty work.
Alan Bates died a few years later and I have so regretted putting work before pleasure and therefore missing the play. Anyway I for one will miss CEEFAX and its dodgy looking graphics maybe there can be some nerdy reconstruct on the internet of the CEEFAX style and design as it was always comforting to see?