Just about every television in Europe has a “teletext” button. Push the button on your television remote and you’re digitally transported to the early 1980s. Against a black background, brief news dispatches are spelled out in bright, thickly pixelated text reminiscent of an Atari game title screen. As old-fashioned as it looks, the news you see isn’t from the ’80s—it’s from right now. Almost four decades after it started, teletext remains almost exactly the same now as it was at its birth.
Teletext, first used by the BBC in 1972, is a technology that was developed to take advantage of a previously unused bit of digital space between picture frames. In this space, programmers could send extra information to television sets besides actual TV shows—closed captioning text, for instance, or news alerts. Eventually the service grew to include hundreds of pages of text, from weather reports to sports scores to airline information.
The Teletext has since waned in most countries…except, for some strange reason, Scandinavia. Why? Keep Reading