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…)