Ceefax and the end of a technology era

So the venerable television text service is no more in the UK, as the BBC closes Ceefax. The ITV and Channel 4 alternatives closed back in 2009, so it’s the end of a UK -developed technology that began in the early 1970s.

The end has been coming for a while. I can remember using the BBC service to check the football scores, and also the ITV alternative for video game coverage. But a few years ago I started sitting in front of my laptop reading the scores to my dad before the pages could cycle through.

Obviously between new interactive services, laptops, and particularly the ‘second screen’ duo of smartphones and tablets, there’s probably a very small minority who will be affected by the demise of Ceefax, which increasingly resembled a pixel art vision of the future.

But the news did bring back some happy memories of the Disposable Media project I worked on. Assembled from volunteers either already working in the media or hoping to break into it, the DM online magazine was produced entirely online via a private forum, and was available as a PDF download which managed to reach tens of thousands of people each issue.

And one memorable issue featured a cover by ITV’s teletext video game legend Mr Biffo

Disposable Media

The scary thing is that it’s almost 5 years since that issue was produced. Since then some of the Disposable Alumni have gone onto work for a range of companies, with many in the media in some senior positions.

And even this week there has been debate about yet another venerable print title switching to digital distribution only. We knew it was happening years ago!