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I remember when... we all adored teletext (February 1980)

Comedian Jack Dee once aptly compared it to asking your gran to look up something in the Radio Times – 'Hold on, dear, I'm just trying to find the page...' – but the demise of teletext will strike a chord with anyone who grew up with the cumbersome TV info service.

Finally put out of its misery on ITV, Channel 4 and Five over Christmas, teletext was to become a uniquely British institution during the 1980s and '90s, attracting weekly audiences of up to 20 million.

Its 1976 roll out, however, was far from auspicious – understandable seeing as it required a separate decoder and few TVs came with a remote control.

But TV tech soon caught up, with Ferguson and Philips leading the way with teletext at the turn of the decade. At £799, the 26in Ferguson 3789 was almost two months' salary for the average Brit, but thanks to Radio Rentals, the nation embraced 'the ultimate newspaper' for just a few pounds a month.

  • An early teletext model from Bang & Olufsen. The data is broadcast during a TV signal's 'blanking interval' – the gap between individual frames when the electron beam returns to the top-left of the screen. This interval is just long enough to decode the 24 lines of text needed for a 1kB teletext page.
  • Pleasingly, you don't see magazine covers like this anymore. With the £1 coin not yet in circulation, we resort to stacking 50 pence pieces to illustrate the price-points for our turntable cartridge test. The price of the magazine itself is the princely sum of 55p.


  • Aiwa has seen the future – sitting on the moon listening to a micro system. This 'sci-fi hi-fi' advert promotes its revolutionary four-tier set-up, measuring just 11 1/4in high, 9 1/2in wide and 9in deep.