Ceefax would have been 40 today! Write BBC League Cup report to celebrate

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Final Ceefax screen

Long before the days of the internet and email the only way you could get information quickly was via Ceefax. It used part of the analogue TV signal to transmit its pixellated stories directly to your TV screen in an age well before home computers and when the only electronic game was Pong – a crude bat and ball game you played on your large wooden telly .

Ceefax headlines had to be exactly 31 characters while each page comprised four paragraphs with around 80 words in total. Often for long stories with several pages you had to sit around and wait for the next page to load up – a process that seemed to take forever.

Devised in 1972 by engineers working on providing sub-titles for the deaf, Ceefax was the world’s first Teletext service going live on September 23rd, 1974. However, with the end of analogue TV in 2012 Ceefax was finally retired after 38 years of service.

To pay tribute to the much loved service, the BBC is inviting would-be journalists to write match reports of tonight’s League Cup games which will be published on the website tomorrow. To find out more details go to the BBC website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29242558.

History of Ceefax

First announced in October 1972, the Ceefax system went live on 23 September 1974 with thirty pages of information.

Pages from Ceefax was a selection of automated content from Ceefax which was shown in the absence of any other programming. It consisted of selected Ceefax pages, usually news, and transmitted as an ordinary TV picture. It was used to fill BBC2’s night time schedule for several years!

At 23:32:19 BST on 23 October 2012, Ceefax was switched off after 38 years of providing news, weather and sport information when the Olympic Games champion Dame Mary Peters turned off the last analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland.

Ceefax has been replaced by the BBC Red Button and is is available on most digital services including Freeview, Virgin Media, Sky and Freesat.

Chris Price

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