Ceefax Resurrected for the 21st Century

By James O Malley on at

Remember Ceefax? A new website promises to recreate the experience of switching on your TV in the early hours of the morning to be greeted by pages of the text service set to music.

Brilliantly, doesn't just show old Ceefax screenshots, but creates new pages in the old style by using data from the BBC News website - so you can catch up with today's news, with a retro feel. In a sense this is like art imitating life as for many years the BBC News website was specifically written so that the first three or four paragraphs of each story could be automatically adapted and used on more limited Ceefax too, without being to be re-written.

The design has bowed to modernity slightly too - instead of the TV schedules for BBC One and Two, the website instead pulls in the top iPlayer programmes.

If you're too young to remember Ceefax, then a) holy shit do I feel old, but also b) Ceefax was invented by the BBC in the 70s and was a bit like a one way internet. TV signals used to carry a text service in spare bandwidth in the TV signals. You'd press the "text" button and could enter page numbers to cycle to different pages. Many pages had multiple sub-pages, but rather than flip through you would have to wait for the page to change automatically after a fixed period of time. Services were slowly reduced after the turn of the millennium, with the rise of digital TV - and the plug was finally pulled on Ceefax in 2012 with digital switch-over.

It is unclear who is behind the site, but we love it. Now if only there was an option to Chromecast it...!