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In the 1970s, home computers were rare and modems rarer still, but the Post Office decided to bring digital communications into the home and office using a text delivery service called Viewdata.
Run on GEC 4000 minicomputers with 374kB of memory and around 800MB spread across 70MB hard disks, the service went live in 1979 under the name of Prestel. The original terminals were modified television sets that cost a small fortune: at 1200bps/75bp, the phone bills were astronomical too, and the service failed to catch on, peaking at around 90,000 subscribers.
In the mid-80s, it hosted the UK's first online technology journal, Micronet 800, which gave the editor of ZDNet UK his first job in journalism — but wisely sacked him shortly after hiring him.
Image credit: BT