WelcomeWelcome to viewdata.org.uk!
It's over 30 years since the GPO launched Prestel on the unsuspecting public. Over the fifteen or so years of it's existence, it became everything that the Internet is today, and spawned an entire industry of competing and complimentary services, plus more than a few hobby based systems, not to mention a multitude of companies dedicated to supporting those publishing or using the services. For the most part, outside some specialist applications, these have all now disappeared without trace. Our aim here is to celebrate the heyday of this industry, and not let what was a revolutionary concept be totally forgotten.
Being on-line, 1982 styleWe're especially disappointed that there was no celebration of the 30th anniversary; apparently nobody cares any more about such an important milestone in the history of "being on-line". We appreciate that many people will consider Viewdata to have been a dead-end technology, but it laid the groundwork for much of what was to come. Would the UK have become such a major player in the provision of on-line services were it not for the experience already gained by many companies in running consumer-facing online services? Who knows, but it must have had an impact.
On viewdata.org.uk, we celebrate all aspects of Viewdata in the UK, and beyond. Obviously we're concentrating on it's heyday of the 1980s, however that doesn't stop us from covering current systems too!
We have screenshots, brochures, memories and stories, downloads, and even interactive access to demonstrations. We plan access to systems that are still running, and emulations of past services.
We've got examples from commercial systems (Prestel being the biggest) and from non-commercial and hobbyist systems; we're not fussy! We would especially like to add information from systems which were not generally publicly accessible, as those are the services most likely to have vanished without trace.
ContributePlease feel free to contribute anything you have! If you were an IP on Prestel or elsewhere, and have a copy of your pages from the time, we're able to republish them in an interactive format. Individual screenshots are still welcome, of course, as are brochures and other documents. Old backup tapes of entire systems would be especially welcome, however we're also very interested in publishing your memories and experiences of being involved with, or just using, viewdata systems.
Our main hope is for the discs from, or a backup of, the Prestel computers themselves to surface. It seems that when they were finally switched off, nothing was officially retained. Surely somebody took home a disc or tape?
To write privately, the contact page gives our details, or you may wish to contribute to our forum where you can reminisce in public.
We're also happy to exchange links with other relevant websites! Just Contact us with the details!
17th February 2016 rob A couple of links to very interesting videos from the BT Film Archive have been added to the Videos page.
8th August 2015 rob Back in the mists of time, (well, 1988..) I recorded one of my Prestel sessions to disc. This was the first day of the new off-peak time charges, and many people were upset and leaving. This session included my checking of emails, replying to a couple, and then browsing the chatlines. Through the magic of emulation, and a bit of BBC BASIC, you now have the opportunity to watch me doing this all over again. This is how we really used to use Prestel! See the Videos page to view it! And PS: yes, I know more updates are long overdue!
17th January 2015 rob A long log time ago, in a world far far away, a young rodent by the name of Micromouse kept the nascent generation of online addicts informed and entertained by his news and opinion column. A "blogger" before such terms were invented.. We won't mention the Prince Philip Prestel Hack.. As time marched on, so did Sqweeeks, becoming a well known, indeed world renowned, and highly respected IT Journalist and commentator. On 12th January, Steve Gold died from complications arising from a heart operation, just days before his 59th Birthday. He was a friend, and a great chap. He will be sorely missed. A memorial site is here.
9th July 2012 rob A little bit of breaking news from 1990 (Thanks Ant)
7th July 2012 rob We have moved site to a new host; if you see this, it's working! Phew..
26th May 2012 rob Blimey, an update! Just a note about cookies, sorry!
13th July 2011 Rob A new page and some new documents - read a little about CitiService, the link to the stock market!
18th March 2011 Rob Merry Red Nose Day! Added two new old leaflets to the Silicon Village page.
9th February 2011 Rob Added a set of nice Prestel leaflets from September 1984.
5th February 2011 Rob Created an overdue introduction page for Suppliers, and included some pages from a trade directory listing various suppliers. Also added a page with brochures for Tandata, one of the major player in domestic hardware!
24th January 2011 Rob Added an experimental RSS Feed to the main website to keep you updated with the latest news. Please let me know if there are any problems with this through the Contact page.
22nd January 2011 Rob Added a section on Healthdata, including a complete copy of their Offline Database! Thanks, David.
7th November 2010 Rob Added a Prestel Directories page, and added the first (of many!) directory to it. See the breadth of information available!
31st October 2010 Rob Gosh is it that long since the last update? I'll have to get the scanner connected.. I've added another YouTube Video that mentions, and shows some pages from, Prestel. It's an American item, but still interesting!
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