Remembering Ceefax A Predecessor To The Internet

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Those old enough to remember Ceefax will most likely hold cherished memories of it. In the days before the Internet, social media, and smartphones, the text-based television service gave us not only updates, but also memories. 

BBC Ceefax may seem painfully outdated now, but I considered it cutting-edge when it first came out. It was, in a way, a predecessor to the World Wide Web and laid the foundation for the news websites that would follow.


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Ceefax Debut

The service debuted on 23 September 1974, and quickly became a fixture of living rooms everywhere. The blocky, gaudy text was very much of the time, and its loading screens were frustratingly slow, but we all learned to live with it, and I can’t believe it’s been gone for 10 whole years. 

I remember checking Ceefax to learn football results, political news, and hear about technological achievements. Nostalgia for the service is back with a vengeance ahead of the 10th anniversary of its demise, and its absence only highlights how much the world has changed (for the worse) since its heyday. 

The world seemed simpler, faraway lands seemed more exoctic, and television was watched in the presence of family.  Society had values, could afford their own homes, and ordering avocado on toast in a cafe would’ve landed you a smack. 

Rather Disappointed in Jame Corden

Rather Disappointed in Jame Corden

Representative Of Simpler Times

The Ceefax service wasn’t always perfect, however. I vividly recall one incident, occuring in 1994, where Ceefax stated that the Queen Mother had died. I spat out my drink in shock before praying the update was some sort of mistake, and, thankfully, it was. 

The last Ceefax broadcast occurred on 23 October 2012, however it had become superfluous years before. Britain’s youth likely visited the service for a cheap laugh, whilst the older generation caught up with the computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets of the day.

Ceefax was representative of a simpler time, and being reminded of its absence is even more poignant this year due to the intense amount of loss the UK has experienced this year. The cornerstones of old Britain are quickly vanishing, and I’m not liking what’s taking their places. 

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