Prestel viewdata (teletext)

Prestel videotex viewdata (teletext) – Micro Arts Phase Two

Micro Arts Prestel teletext
Micro Arts Prestel teletext








All content, including software, (‘telesoftware’) distributed on Prestel videotext (viewdata or teletext) on the user area Micronet 800 in 1985.



Micro Arts was invited to be on a large section of Prestel at Micronet 800 (at location 8008). Videotex was viewdata and interactive, better than teletext. 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 Herbal Hill, Clerkenwell, London. 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. It never really took off (unlike Minitel in France) mainly due to expense, since everything was charged for, even for a casual service.

Prestel was even available at sea.

The Townsend-Thoresen Felixstowe to Zeebrugge ferry, Viking Voyager, featuring Prestel. © Practical Computing June 1982
The Townsend-Thoresen Felixstowe to Zeebrugge ferry, Viking Voyager, featuring Prestel. © Practical Computing June 1982

When Prestel closed it down, they transferred the subscribers to Compuserve which then became AOL in the UK. AOL was huge until the more free and general world wide web took over. Facebook is a new type of AOL service, where all users’ needs are met within one large service, discouraging outward movement by endless distractions.



See also Telidon (1978-1985, Canada) in Early Computer Art.


“There is no future for online services aimed at domestic computer users”

Michael Collins, the 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, unpublished, edition of the magazine.

MA4 Cow Boils Head text story generator (Geoff Davis) was only distributed on Prestel telesoftware format.

There is a new teletext viewer (on a Raspberry Pi) by Nathan Dane.

micronet800 prestel.jpg

Above: Micronet 800