Retrotechtacular: 1983′s answer to information overload

We can’t say we ever really thought that the problem with the early 1980′s was too much information in the hands of the people. But this promotional video for the Sceptre Videotex Terminal claims that it is the solution to the information overload of the time. The entire video is embedded after the break.

You use your TV as a display, connecting the hardware to a phone line and using a keyboard for navigation. Perhaps our favorite bit is when the announcer informs us that the secret behind the system is its “vast sources of information”. These include the Miami Herald, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, and Consumer Reports. Just remember that at the time you’d need to hit the local library to access all of those resources. Also, searching them wasn’t a possibility.

But wait, this wasn’t just conceived for news. The system — which was backed by Night-Ridder (a huge Newspaper conglomerate) and AT&T — boasted commerce and banking abilities as well as education services. It’s the vision of the Internet which Ma Bell would have preferred to be in place today.

[via Gizmodo]

38 thoughts on “Retrotechtacular: 1983′s answer to information overload

  1. Anyone else sort of miss the days of being
    able to surf the web and not get a migraine
    or an epileptic seizure
    (after offsetting setting you screen rate from local power freq)

    Thanks, Adobe/flash and virus writers for raising, by tenfold++,
    the amount of computer power it now takes
    to look at roughly the same audio and “quality”

    I hate mp3s also.

      1. Sorry, XD.
        forgot to curmudgeon about the load
        from the laundry list of FirFox addons.

        And something to strip out all the inane avitars,
        pictures of your fanboy shoes, truck ,laptop, moped, girls bouncing ass….
        And those novela length siginatures, has it’s price also.
        that crap belongs in your bio page, not clogging up the main site pages.

        Nothing like trying to find the 13 words of reply
        burried in a screen and a half of (endlessly repeated) vanity BullShit.

      1. Well yeah, that’s how it started. It took three decades of talented work to get all the 34 we have today. Back then the first and second parts of Rule 34 were reversed.

        Rule 34 circa 1985:

        There will be porn of everything soon, if not then it has already been created.

    1. what? no porn in 1980? lol think again!

      i found porn on a HDD off of the curb that was from way back when

      it was a PRE-IDE disk drive, i think MFM but it *might* have been RLL… anywho it was days and days of learning about ancient stuff just to get it configured how it was in the original system… its not like modern drives where the controller is strapped to the drive itself. back then there were ANALOG signals transmitted off of the drive and the card in the ISA socket needed a ROM that matched the drive being used! and then there is the actual _configuration/settings_ to deal with! fun times :P

      the porn was just still pictures, they were only 1bit (black and white, no grey) and were not at all interesting to stare at

      anyone remember *_THE_* hercules video adapter?
      i had a knockoff version that incorporated a hercules AND a CGA in the same unit, needed a special monitor to display the CGA modes, but the MDA and hercules would show fine on a MDA/hercules monitor!

      PS: back then each video card required a different monitor, and they were often instantly destroyed by plugging it into a wrong/incompatible video card! what 9-pin joy.

      1. No porn on *that* system, hence it’s failure. Porn has been around since the first caveman banged rock on the wall.

        Lack of cat videos probably didn’t help either.

  2. Teletext! 32 from Chicago started early 80′s late at night some was shown on screen if I remember. You could see the bits of data on the top line of video if you adjusted the height down a bit.

    1. I remember even seeing them in a lot of public telephone boots in France in the early nineties.
      3615 everywhere back then, it was huge.

    2. yes, minitel was a bit expensive for large use (most of services 0.3€ / minute), but the terminal was free of charge !
      possibility to consult bank account, buy train or plane tickets, … thousands of services …

    1. Yeah this does reminds you of the ‘connected TV’ and those boxes they keep trying to make and sell that have simplified internet for your TV.

      And tablets and such also try to reduce choice in browsers and make things more dumb.

      But perhaps it’s good to have a separate internet experience for people that cannot or don’t want to deal with internet, politicians and such come to mind, that might smooth the whole thing over, then they don’t get upset and try to kill it since they are corralled away from the real thing.

      1. Worked for the 1990′s… Usenet (direct from the ISP, no uploading!) was our Bit Torrent back then.
        #1 rule of *insert secret network*: Don’t talk about *insert secret network* ;)

      2. Yep, and with usenet it didn’t help that they started to offer web versions way back, making it too easy for the (talkative) masses and so making it known to even the politicians and business executives, with some unhappy results.

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