Back in 2006, there was a super weird way to watch the World Cup…

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Way back in 2006, when the World Cup took place in Germany, a bold experiment took place. Whilst today we’re concerned with getting the pictures from the games in the best quality HD (or even 4K), 2006 was a simpler time – we got the World Cup in ASCII.


asciiscreens.pngNo, technology wasn’t that backwards back then, but it was an experiment by a group of Austrian hackers to create “The best, most ridiculous, most redundant graphical implementation of ASCII!”.

Yes, ASCII – turning the live pictures into text, so they can be transmitted over telnet (basically the system we used for the internet before the invention of the web browser). Yes, it was pointless, but technically it was very clever.

It meant that during the 2006 World Cup you could use your telnet software (which looked like a DOS window, as is usually built into every operating system) to access something that looked like this:

The crazy thing was… it sort of worked. Like the Matrix, if you watched the on-screen characters for long enough and you began to see pictures.

In fact, despite the complex software needed to translate pictures into text and transmit it via Telnet, it was faster than the TV broadcasts. I remember annoying my dad at the time by calling out goals before they appeared seconds later on the TV.

Whilst there’s no sign of the group resurrecting the experiment eight years later for this year’s World Cup, you’ve got to admire what they did. Perhaps its time someone did an updated variation? Real time World Cup in Minecraft, perhaps?

James O’Malley
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