April 07, 2008

Retrotech: Teletext

It doesn't get much more retrotech than this. Keyfax tried a subscription-based interactive television system in 1982. The trial service was offered only in Chicago. It isn't surprising that it didn't catch on; people were still getting used to paying for television (cable tv was first available just two years earlier in my neighborhood) and Keyfax wanted $10 per month for their 100 pages of information, all of which you could get in a daily newspaper. Still, it's the first of its kind. No, this isn't special effects outtakes from The Last Starfighter. This is Nite-Owl, Keyfax's other venture, a midnight-to-six show on WFLD (channel 32 on UHF). The opening credits soundtrack is Tangerine Dream. I stayed over at a friend's house when I was twelve and we watched this for at least an hour. There was simply nothing else on. Seeing it here again, I realize it's far more worthwhile than just about anything else tv was offering at the time. A whole hour's worth of news, weather, trivia, and no sponsors or commercials. For these reasons, it didn't make money and was yanked. Keyfax also died a quick death, and nothing like it came back around until internet television in the mid-90's. But that's another post.


Lance Ehlers said...

In the 30-second ad, it sounds like they lifted Goblin's score used for the scene in Dawn of the Dead when the two swat guys are blockading the mall entrances with trucks.

stexe said...

And did you see that clip of oprah winfrey at the end? She looks indistinguishable from nell carter.