One of my interests is retrocomputing, primarily Commodore, and I have a particular fascination with recreations of “retro” online information systems. There have been several such amazing projects such as bringing back dialup BBSes on Telnet, QuantumLink Reloaded, NeoHabitat, and others like the NABU Network Recreation Project. There’s a ton of pre-Internet history to be found on these systems, and I only got to briefly experience the final days of this online world first-hand.
So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a complete, boxed software package from 1984 called Videotex, designed by the Manitoba Telephone System no less (my home province) that implements NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level
Protocol Syntax) for the Commodore 64.
Promising “full colour graphics” and all the features listed above, this package was a glimpse of things to come. I have a distant memory of farmer friends’ parents using a system like this to access real-time online information when we were in high school, and I was fascinated then as I am now.
So, thanks to the efforts of Ian Colquhoun, Tiffany Antopolski, “DLH” of Bombjack.org, and a coder calling himself “Mad Max”, this piece of telecommunications history and its documentation has been preserved for study and experimentation.
- Front and Back Cover (PDF)
- Operating Instructions (PDF)
- Low-level “G64” archive of the disk contents
- “D64” archive of the disk with copy protection removed (usable in VICE Emulator)
Perhaps one day we’ll see an online recreation of some of these networks as well! (I’m going to do some tinkering, stay tuned…)
Links are broken…
Seems something wonky happened with the Bombjack domain. Fixed the links, pointed to a (hopefully static) IP address that Bombjack now points to.
Thanks for the heads-up!
NAPLPS was the basis for the Prodigy network, which made good on the Videotex promise and generated the look and feel of the web to come.
Please, oh, please, oh, please someone bring a NAPLPS bbs accessible to both Commodore and Linux. I’m a big fan of this graphics format. It’s a delightfully efficient and endearing system. In the retrocomputing world, it could occupy a niche between colour telnet sites and brutalist web. Thanks!
Hi, very exiting to discover this.
I have recently found (in France) a real ALEXTEL terminal that I’ve not even tested yet. From what says Wikipedia, this should also be NAPLPS – would those be compatible together ?
Also found this interesting article (in French, sorry) http://noirmagnetique.com/blogue/sujet-technos/alextel-entrevue-avec-bachir-halimi/
Regards – Hervé
Quite probably. NAPLPS was a protocol used across many different systems.