There’s a certain irony in the fact that fond memories of Ceefax are being discussed on Twitter.
Back before the internet became a common household utility and Twitter was a mere twinkle in Jack Dorsey’s eye, Ceefax (because you’d “see facts”) was one of the only ways to get access to instant, real-time information on demand.
In London and surrounding areas, Ceefax has bitten the dust as the analogue signal has been powered down.
Though analogue purists are still holding out in parts of Kent and Northern Ireland, come the end of the year Ceefax will be gone for good. Thankfully, internet archivists have been busy at work ensuring that generations to come will be able to appreciate such characters as Turner the Worm:
iOS developer Craig Lockwood (@craiginwales) grabbed this image of Turner, giving us an insight into the humour behind Ceefax’s writers.
The nail-biting tension of footie fans across the nation is summed up by Arsenal fan @jimthegooner and the BBC’s Ian Westbrook (@ianwestbrook). Yes, before the internet and Sky+ you had to wait until the Ceefax page updated showing the latest football results. Sometimes Ceefax would forgo such things as sequential order, with page 1 / 3 skipping to page 3 / 3 ignoring the one in the middle. Adding, of course, to the thrill and suspense.
Ceefax wasn’t just about text-based information either. In the wee hours it would also bamboozle viewers with creepy elevator music-style compositions. DJ Ricky Rooney (@rickyrooney) tweeted a link to a YouTube clip uploaded by ‘musicfromceefax,’ where you can lose yourself in floor fillers like ‘Sakura Sunrise’, ‘Atlantic Archipelago’ and ‘Great Ocean Road’. Thanks to the power of the internets, we can listen to whatever we like while getting our footie results and innuendo.
Plenty of tweeters are also getting misty eyed about Bamboozle, a quiz game that pit you against Bamber Boozler, a pixellated proto-Chris Tarrant character in a similar vein to old Turner up there.
Though Bamboozle was a bit of fun (at least in the days before the NES) it was in fact a feature of analogue Teletext, which died a death back in 2009. However, if you’ve got an iPhone there is an app for that…
Ceefax will be fondly remembered by those who used it and will be a blocky, 8-bit-looking anomaly to our descendents. But this outpouring of love is a bit like getting misty eyed about how awesome wax cylinders and VHS tapes were; we’re very thankful for what we’ve got now.