The Viewtron System and Sceptre Videotex Terminal (1983)
From the AT&T archives, a promo from 1983 for an information technology product that would work over phone lines … a potential precursor to the modern internet. The first minute includes a great VHS representation of an idea we think is something that has only occurred within the last decade - information overload.
Viewtron ran on your television, navigated via Sceptre terminal and fed via modem. It used a teletext graphical interface with basic, early multicolor ‘paint’ type graphics — on the NAPLPS standard (North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax). The system was test-marketed in Florida by Viewtron, a company formed by the collaboration of AT&T and Knight-Ridder. It rolled out 4 years after EIS, in 1983. It offered many more services than EIS … including online shopping and games.
The system never went national, though other companies marketed their versions in other local markets (like Keyfax in Chicago and Gateway in L.A., among others). The best part of this film, in particular, is getting to see what kind of services were offered and what they looked like on-screen. But in practice, the service was slow, expensive, and maybe a little too far ahead of its time. There just weren’t enough customers who could justify both the cost of the terminal and the monthly — and hourly — charges to make it profitable for Viewtron. In 1986, they pulled the plug on the experiment.
More info can be found at the video’s YouTube page here