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robertclark1251,592 posts since 13 Jan 2009
STV Central Reporting Scotland
Back in July 1989, the BBC announced a revamp of the Ceefax service, and, in order to do this, some elements had to be cut or discontinued. One of these was the Telesoftware service. This allowed people, with suitable decoders, to download telesoftware, for use mainly on BBC computers.

By 1989, things had moved on, and while the decision to revamp Ceefax was one reason for the closure of telesoftware, it wasn't the only reason, as this statement shows.


Thirty years after the service ended, was there anyone on here who used it, and does anyone else have any thoughts on it?
noggin14,952 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Either The Compute Programme or Making The Most of The Micro did an audio broadcast of a computer program, I think in something like BASICODE so it would run on multiple platforms.

One broadcaster in the UK also used a flashing dot that you received with a photodiode stuck to your screen...
Technologist153 posts since 10 Oct 2018
London London
The idea of Telesoftware was very good -
But incorporating "text as data" in what was basically a Text Processing system was always going to give probelms.... let alone the amount of transmission time it was deemed to use.

in 1989 there was not the Teletext Processing Equipment which the BBC specified and installed in the 1990s which ended up with Ceefax engine outputting 1 and a half more VBI line pairs than were emitted - which gave an extra 3 pages every second.
see https://www.smpte.org/sections/united-kingdom/events/untold-stories-teletext-celebrating-40-years-digital-broadcasting
slide pack for details (and history - 1989++)

If Telesoftware had used Packet 30 or 31 Databroadcasting things may have been different -
After all it was a very good service for many customers ..... like Stock Exchange Corals Cardcast

Flashing Patches were also great fun but in those days because of Overscan and the Curved edges of TV screens they had to be more in picture than you woudl like!
_ although on one occastion I did one that scrolled the data across the screen as an "Arty" border to the text scroll beneath - but that needed an extra Keyer as well !!!
And the data rate was not that good!

But other than Satelite images i don't think Telesoftware was missed!
noggin14,952 posts since 26 Jun 2001

But other than Satelite images i don't think Telesoftware was missed!

Very true, if only we'd migrated to a higher level Teletext service that could have done satellite images without needing a BBC Micro or similar.

(Though I am glad that there is some Level 2/2.5 recovered stuff kicking around from the days when Ceefax In Vision used the higher level stuff. #pastelcolours )
Inspector Sands14,818 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I remember the Ceefax relaunch being very underwhelming. It was the one where they split all the sections into seperate magazines - so 100 was news, 200 business, 300 sport, 400 weather, 600 TV listings. Thus removing anything that wasn't information - fun and games, recipes, programme support etc all disappeared. They did it in the dullest way possible too, the lower case logo was the only graphic they had apart from the weather maps.

They also had different pages at different times of the day, and had BBC2 giving more in depth content and BBC1 having more speed but less content. The former of course was a thing Teletext tried and abandoned a few years later, as well as finding out the at news is better on the main channel

It went from being a nice cosy friendly service to a serious news service. Think Breakfast Time to Breakfast News
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 26 July 2019 1:15pm
Inspector Sands14,818 posts since 25 Aug 2004
It moved from Presentation to News .....
and thus maxed the space for text ..
The weather maps were separated graphics though ...

Ahhh, I thought they changed somehow but couldn't remember how. Seems a bit of a backward step unless there was a reason why, maybe so they could split the country into more areas
Riaz686 posts since 6 Jan 2016
Yes. I remember Telesoftware. It required a special teletext receiver that connected to a computer because very few TVs had a teletext data output pin that could be fed into an RS-232 port on a computer. I believe that all the software was for the BBC B / Master.

It wasn't popular due to a multitude of reasons and its main users were a small number of very 'switched on' schools.

There are similarities between Telesoftware and the concept of distributing software by inserting it into the VBI for a smart TV such as those with an integrated MSX computer that I mentioned in another discussion.


The difference between this and Telesoftware is that in most cases the software would have been run on the TV rather than on a separate computer.