A capsule history of online news and information systems
by David Carlson
© 1999-2009 All Rights Reserved

Select a decade
1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

1980-85

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Year U.K. U.S. & Canada Europe Asia/Other
1980 Prestel is now within a local phone call for 62 percent of the British population. Miami: Viewtron, the videotex service created by Knight-Ridder and AT&T, begins "concept trials" near Miami. France: Teletel, the videotex system now called Minitel, is publicly demonstrated. China begins development of an electronic phone book called CtdE, or Chinese Telephone Directory Enquiry.
1980
con't
The Brighton Argus, owned by   Westminster Press, launches a Prestel service called Viewpress. The Apple III is introduced with a 2-MHz Motorola 6502A processor and a price tag of $4,500 to $8,000, depending on configuration. Meanwhile, IBM begins assembling a team to design the PC. It contacts Microsoft and Digital Research about creating an operating system. Digital Research declines. Netherlands: Krantel, a consortium of Dutch newspaper publishers, is formed in May to explore videotex. Its service is presented on Viditel. Meanwhile, in April, teletext service begins.  
1980
con't
  April 25: The Associated Press Videotex Wire begins transmission. June: Germany's first public trials of Bildschirmtext involve 6,000 terminals in Dusseldorf and Berlin. Three newspapers are among the IPs. The VCR is introduced by Matsushita. 40,000 U.S. homes will have one within a year.
1980
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  July: The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio becomes the first newspaper to offer an electronic edition via CompuServe, which now has 3,600 total subscribers. August: In the Netherlands, Viditel public trials begin. System goes commercial in 1982. Krantel provides about 300 pages per day and gets 14,000 hits a month.  
1980
con't
  The Source is purchased for $6 million by Reader's Digest. It has fewer than 5,000 subscribers. "Intelmatique" is incorporated in France to sell its Teletel technology to the rest of the world.  
1980
con't
  Qube, the first two-way cable TV system, is started by Warner Amex in Columbus, Ohio. It closes in 1984. Hungary: National videotex service begins test transmissions.  
1980
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  Pac-Man, a successful video game, is released.    
1981   Adam Osborne introduces the Osborne 1, a portable computer with 64K of RAM, two floppy drives, and a 5-inch display. Price: $1,795.    
1981
con't
An estimated 10,000 Prestel terminals are in use. The service boasts 500 information providers. The first commercial Ethernet network interface card is marketed by Ungermann-Bass.    
1981
con't
Financial Times buys out Extel and continues to operate Fintel on Prestel and Newsbase separately. Feb. 17: Time, Inc. announces it will develop and test a multi-channel teletext service to be distributed via satellite, the first of its kind.    
1981
con't
  National Science Foundation backbone goes up to connect U.S. universities to Arpanet.    
1981
con't
  April: WFLD-TV in Chicago begins teletext transmissions. On Sept. 4, it introduces Nite Owl, a full-channel, late-night service that requires no decoder. France: La Parisien Libere, a  French newspaper,  produces its first online edition on  Teletel March 26.  
1981
con't
  June: WETA, a PBS TV station in Washington, D.C., launches a pilot alphageometric videotex service with 40 homes and 10 public terminals. June: Teletel, the French electronic telephone book, begins wider trials. France orders 300,000 Minitel terminals.  
1981
con't
  August: IBM introduces the PC. Based on the Intel 8088, it sells 50,000 units in the first eight months. Cost: $1,565 to $6,000.    
1981
con't
  November: First Bank System of Minneapolis announces a full interactive trial using Teletel technology. Ends in March, 1983. Austria: Videotex system based on Prestel with improved MUPID terminal is introduced in March.  
1981
con't
  Chemical Bank  begins trials of Pronto, a telebanking service, in 200 New York homes. It goes commercial in late 1983 as part of Covidea.   Japan: Second Captain trial commences in August with 2,000 terminals.
1982 Prestel introduces "gateways" which provide access to outside databases. Eleven U.S. newspapers begin daily transmission of "electronic versions" via CompuServe, which now has 10,000 subscribers. France: Major public trial of Teletel begins using 270,000 Minitel terminals distributed free of charge. Hong Kong: Trials of Viewdata, a videotex system, begin in spring with 500 terminals.
1982
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  Ted Nelson, inventor of hypertext, publishes a seminal book called "Literary Machines," describing his Xanadu concept.    
1982
con't
  Los Angeles: Gateway, the videotex trial conducted by Times-Mirror, operates between March 15 and Dec. 31. EUnet (European UNIX Network) is created by EUUG to provide email and USENET services.  
1982
con't
January: Prestel has attracted 15,000 purchasers or renters of equipment, but readership is estimated at up to 75,000. Summer: The Danbury (Ct.) News-Times starts TimesView, a teletext service. January: Viditel in Holland has 4,000 users, 130 IPs and 90,000 pages of information. Krantel now includes 10 Dutch newspapers.  
1982
con't
  Project Grassroots opens in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Italy: Videotel, a videotex service, begins testing in the first quarter with 2,000 terminals.  
1982
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  Intel introduces the 6-MHz 80286 chip. Spain: First trials of Ibertex take place during the Football World Championship with 400 terminals in airports, hotels, train stations, etc., which provide updated information.  
1982
con't
  INDAX, an interactive cable TV system is tested in Southern California by Cox, a cable and newspaper company. Austria, Finland, Norway, Spain, Switzerland also have videotex experiments under way.  
1982
con't
  StarText, the only early newspaper videotex system intended for display on computers, opens in Fort Worth, Texas. Netherlands: 100,000 teletext TV sets are sold in the year ending in April — and twice the price of regular TVs.  
1982
con't
  November: Keyfax, a $10 per month teletext service, begins broadcasting on WTBS Atlanta. France: Another 300,000 Minitel terminals are ordered by the government.  
1982
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  Commodore Computer announces the Commodore 64. It has 64K of RAM, sound and color graphics when hooked to a color TV. Cost: $600. Spain: First trials of teletext systems take place through RTVE (Radio Televisión Española) with Antiope and UK systems.  
1982
con't
  Microsoft begins developing its first Mac applications.    
1983 Prestel boasts over 200,000 users on 30,000 registered terminals. Its database contains 250,000 pages. Jan. 3: Time Magazine names no "Man of the Year." Instead, the computer is dubbed "Machine of the Year." France: The first smart card is introduced for commercial transactions via Minitel. Japan: Captain is introduced commercially late in the year. Trials now have cost 20 billion yen.
1983
con't
Prestel begins to woo PC owners with free software. Midyear: Keycom Electronic Publishing launches Keytran, a videotex service, in Chicago. Central Paris gets electronic phone book access. About 10,000 Minitel terminals are in use.  
1983
con't
  October 30: Viewtron launches commercially in Miami.   Germany: Deutsch Telekom launches T-Online, its videotex system.
1983
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  Internet Domain Name System is developed at the University of Wisconsin. Spain: Online access to 23 online databases is available through various providers.  
1983
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  Nov. 21: After two years of testing, Time, Inc. announces it will not go commercial with Time Teletext and closes it down.    
1983
con't
  Apple introduces the Lisa. With 1 MB of RAM, a 5 MB hard drive and a 12-inch color monitor, it costs $10,000.    
1983
con't
  December: The largest U.S. online services are Dow Jones,  with 90,000 users, CompuServe, 63,000, and The Source,  36,000 users.    
1983
con't
  FidoNet, a store and forward network of BBS systems, is developed by Tom Jennings.    
1983
con't
  ARPAnet begins using TCP/IP.    
1983
con't
  Microsoft first demonstrates "Interface Manager," later renamed Windows.    
1984 Britain has 1.5 million teletext decoders and 42,000 Prestel units in operation. CBS opens ExtraVision teletext system on various network affiliate stations. France: Minitel has about 1 million terminals in use. Japan: JUNET (Japan Unix Network) is established using UUCP.
1984
con't
  January: Apple introduces the Macintosh. Cost: $2,495 with built-in B&W monitor. Within 75 days, 50,000 are sold.    
1984
con't
JANET (Joint Academic Network) established in the UK. March: CompuServe charges 13 cents per minute daytime and 10 cents at night. Dow Jones is $1.20 daytime and 20 cents at night.    
1984
con't
  IBM introduces the PC-AT, based on the 80286 Intel chip. Fully loaded with graphics, color monitor and 20MB hard disk, it costs $6,700. Spain: RTVE decides to adopt the British system for teletext, but with 182 characters, so it can give service to the four different languages spoken in Spain.  
1984
con't
  Nov. 1: Keytran, owned by Centel, Honeywell and Chicago Sun-Times, is renamed Keycom and launches commercial videotex service.    
1984
con't
  Nov. 16: USA Today launches USA Today Update, a business news summary service eventually available on Trintex, Minitel, GEnie, The Source,  Datatimes and others. Spain: Online access to 52 databases is available through various providers.  
1984
con't
  Hewlett-Packard unveils the first Laserjet, a instant business hit at $3,600.    
1985 Worldwide: 22 nations are said to be involved in videotex and teletext. Eleven use Prestel, five use CEPT, two use NAPLPS and four use French Antiope. Videotex systems are planned in at least 20 major U.S. cities. Most are based on either Viewtron or Gateway technology, E&P reports. France: Some 3 million Minitel terminals are in use. Japan: Construction of a nationwide fiber-optic network nears completion.
1985
con't
  San Francisco: Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, The WELL, is created by Stewart Brand. French telephone company registers 15.7 million videotex sessions in a two-month period. Asian countries using videotex or teletext include Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand.
1985
con't
  The first 32-bit processor, the 16-Mhz 80386, is introduced by Intel. Most analysts consider it overkill.    
1985
con't
  March 15: First registered Internet domain name, Symbolics.com, is issued. Germany: Bildschirmtext boasts 28,000 subscribers and 3,700 information providers.  
1985
con't
June: Prestel reports 103,000 E-mail messages are being sent each month and 7.3 million pages are viewed. Quantum Computer Services, which goes on to create AppleLink, Q-Link, PC-Link and, finally, America Online, is founded in Vienna, VA. May: French gaming system, Funitel, averages 100,000 hours of use a month and grosses $7 million in 1985.  
1985
con't
  IBM, Sears and CBS announce a partnership to create Trintex, eventually renamed Prodigy. European countries using teletext or videotex include Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.  
1985
con't
Prestel reports its first profit in the third quarter. Oct. 1: Viewtron goes national with a service for personal computers. Kits for early PCs cost $9.95.    
1985
con't
  Oct. 21: General Electric Co. announces the launch of GEnie, a dialup information and entertainment system for PC users. Price: $35 an hour prime time; $5 an hour nights and weekends.    
1985
con't
  Ontario, Canada: The Hamilton Spectator starts up CompuSpec, a mainframe-based BBS system.   November: Japan's first teletext services begin commercial operation around Tokyo and Osaka.
1985
con't
  Keycom shuts down late in the year. France: 22 million callers in France use videotex services in December. December: Japan's Captain boasts 630 information providers.
1985
con't
  Microsoft ships Windows 1.0. It is not well received  and suffers dismal sales.    
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989

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