Phase two – a different distribution – 1985
Micro Arts was invited to be on a large section of Prestel teletext at Micronet 800 (at location 8008). Teletext is also known as viewdata if interactive. This was technically a success but since the world of Prestel was even more obscure than computer art to the typical art connoisseur, it took a bit of the forward momentum out of the project.
Micronet was owned by the Telemap Group, part of EMAP’s Computer & Business Press. Telemap was first based at 8 Herbal Hill, Clerkenwell, London. Micronet 800 was quite similar to the famous French Minitel services. The staff at Telemap in London were very friendly and helpful setting up the content from Micro Arts and the telesoftware. David Babsky was the editor at the time.
Micronet became less popular due to costs, as Prestel started charging for using the service by time for evening use, on top of phone charges. This was the main time people used the service.
Micronet had around 10,000 subscribers when it ended in 1991, and had peaked at 20,000. Overall use of Prestel was 90,000 users. When Prestel closed it down, they transferred the subscribers to Compuserve which then became AOL in the UK. AOL was huge until the more generalised world wide web took over. Incidentally, Facebook is a new type of AOL service, where all users’ needs are met within one large service, or that is the idea.
“There is no future for online services aimed at domestic computer users”
Michael Collins, the department head of Prestel/Telecom Gold Business Services, stated in a meeting with Paul Needs. [February 1990 – Paul Needs]
“Micronet is to communication in the 80s what the [Gutenberg] Bible was to the Middle Ages”
David Babsky, Micronet Editor, 1984.
Micro Arts on Prestel/Micronet was set up with Simon Holland, who was a contributor and also helped out with the second edition of the magazine (which never came out).
MA4 Cow Boils Head text story generator was only distributed on this telesoftware format.
References and citations for this article in the Links page.
Above: general pages on Prestel teletext.