20-year-old ‘genius’ coder recreates retro BBC Teletext in his parents’ attic

A young programmer from Northern Ireland has been called a 'genius' for painstakingly rebuilding BBC's iconic retro 'Teletext' Ceefax service from the ground-up.

Before the Internet, there was Ceefax, the BBC's electronic news service. Designed in the 1970s, it beamed BBC news, sport, weather and more directly into viewers' homes via a special TV channel.

It was known for being extremely slow, but also for giving quick, effective breakdowns of the latest news and sport without needing to pick up a newspaper or watch the TV.

After Ceefax was shut down in 2012, there was outcry from a small hardcore of fans who still used the service.

Now, Nathan Dane, 20, from Enniskillen, has built a working version of Teletext for the Internet age.

'NMS Ceefax' (Nathan's Media Services Ceefax) takes the iconic pixel design of the original Teletext and updates it with the latest news and events straight from the current BBC website.

It includes an up-to-date weather page using current data from the Met Office and Ceefax's original 'pixel' map of the UK. Nathan's Ceefax also lets you view the Premier League football table as it stands today, plus the latest headlines of local, national, and international news.

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Nathan built the platform in his parents' attic, where he says he has run an 'internal TV service of sorts' from a young age.

“We had Ceefax in this part of the world until 2012, which is probably the only reason I remember it,” Nathan, who didn't own a smartphone until 2017, told the Guardian. “I have a great interest in all the old broadcast-TV type stuff. It’s really the service that I remember looking through when I was wee.”

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Nathan is part of a small Teletext community who meet online and try to keep the Ceefax dream alive.

When Facebook went down in November, the Teletext enthusiasts were proud to keep Ceefax going, saying it remained "unaffected" while the social media giant experienced an eight-hour blackout.

Nathan's Ceefax service has been praised for its simplicity and allowing people to read the news without needing to scroll through an app. He said: “I do find it really useful myself. If I’m sitting in work eating my lunch I can just stick that on and get up to date. You’re not flicking about between websites – you have all the information you need on a page but without all the distraction.”

If you want to try out Nathan's Ceefax service for yourself, visit his website

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