Tuesday, August 07, 2018

BPN 1740: Videotex: an e-phemeral medium

 Today marks the 38th anniversary of the launch of Dutch videotext service Viditel. This first, public, online information service, the first European follower of the UK service Prestel, was based on the videotex protocol. Looking back, Prestel was pass√© by 1994 with 90.000 subscribers at its height. The Dutch service Viditel had three successors and its successors and had eventually had a lifespan of 17 years. By 1994 both services were outnumbered by the Internet. Videotex was one of the first victims of the upcoming e-phemeral media trend.

The year 1980 was an important one for e-media in Holland. On April 1st, 1980, the television text service NOS Teletekst was introduced and grew into a resounding success. Teletext still reaches millions of people in the Netherlands today, as opposed to most services in European countries.

On August 7th, 1980, the Viditel trial was launched by Secretary of State Ms Neelie Kroes. It was the first public online service with 500 subscribers, 150 information providers and 150,000 pages. This videotex service, which ran via the telecom network, grew like the Echternacht procession with two steps back and three forwards, but never became a widely accepted service. 

It soon became clear that the aim had to be a large-scale service, but even the cable experiment South Limburg and the VNU Amsterdam project Ditzitel did not bring about this growth. 

By refocusing on the French kiosque model and its marketing approach, Videotex Netherlands allowed the users' market to grow in its third attempt to introduce videotex. But also this attempt did not lead to the projected market size of 500,000 consumers and 220,000 small business users. From 1994 on, videotex was gradually overshadowed by the Internet. On 1 January 1997 videotex definitely disappeared from the Dutch online scene.

(The illustrations are part of Collection Jak Boumans) 

See also
- video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/wg74YRcv4Tc (commentary in Dutch language)