The TELSTAR Videotex System

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Revision as of 13:46, 16 May 2018 by Glasstty (talk) (Features)
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The TELSTAR Viewdata System is a modern application that provides a simple Viewdata platform in the style of Prestel (

FTSE small.png

The aim of the software is to provide a Viewdata experience for anyone who is interested in how thinng 'used to be'. The modern service uses an internet connection rather than over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The service currently runs out of Digital Ocean's data centre in London and can be accessed using a Telnet modem, such as the modem described by Daniel Jameson ( or a WiModem232 (

TELSTAR is available at the following address.

   Port: 6502


Currently the system takes several news feeds from the BBC and Reuters, and financial information from Google. In addition a small computing section has been included which includes a Telesoftware service (see below) as well as a single feed from the forums.

The content is a little weak at the moment, especially on the intermediate pages, however, with the development of the Teletext convertor almost complete, It will be possible to edit pages using a Teletext editor such as the one at, and import all or part of a page into TELSTAR, converting to Viewdata format in the process. Therefore, as the system expands, it is hoped that the content will become more refined.



Routing is loosly based on the Prestel system, where navigation can take place by following the menu system, additionally, direct access to a page can be gained by using the special combination shown below.

   *<page number>#
       e.g. *890#

'Routing Map' support has been added which means that when following the menu selections pages, data from different IPs can be displayed. This mimics the original Prestel Cross Referencing service and allows full interlinking of content.


The protocol used for Telesoftware is documented in the article [TELSTAR Telesoftware Protocol]. Due to the limited number of documents relating to the subject, the protocol was created by reverse engineering other software. To date the system has worked as expected with clients such as Pace's Commstar software.

The provided TEST program is a tokenised BBC BASIC program aimed at providing a simple mechanism for users to test their respective client systems.

More software will be published as it becomes available.


Copyrights and Trade Marks

It is the aim of TELSTAR to respect all copyrights and trade maeks. Please let me know if you are affected by any software and content that is published on the system.

Development Aims

The following is a list of development aims for the system, in no particular order.

Content additions e.g.

  • Tide Times
  • Addition financial info e.g. NASDAQ etc.
  • Rail data
  • Entertainment section e.g. Cinemas/Theatres


  • Full Routing Map (complete)
  • Develop Response Frame, for data submission
  • Master Pages to replicate Information Providers (IPs) section menus.

Other Tools and Software

  • Tools to convert existing teletext pages to viewdata pages (complete)
  • Support for direct import of created pages
  • Apple II Viewdata Client Software

Technical Details

The TELSTAR system runs on a Digital Ocean cloud based server hosted at glasstty.oerg, port 6502. The software is written in Python 2.7 and runs on the lastest version of Debian Linux. and is managed by systemd.

Currently only a single service is running, referred to as Monty, however, the service can accept many concurrent connections. The service also includes a Telnet negotiation process that sets compliant Telnet clients to character mode as apposed to line mode. This is included to better support Telnet modems.


[1] Martin J, ª1982) Viewdata and the Information Society Prentice Hall