Development of videotex communication technology in Canada was an
outgrowth of the nation's work on satellite communications. Originally
begun as military research, the seeds of the new technology were
transferred by 1969 to the Communications Research Center of the federal
Department of Communications.
In the 1970s and 1980s the Canadian government
invested about $9 million in research and development on Telidon videotex
software, which was easily among the best in the world for its time.
Telidon (from the Greek words tele "distant" and idon "I
see") was the first videotex software to employ alphageometric
graphics, a much less "blocky" improvement over the alphanumeric
graphics used in Britain and most of Europe. Telidon, combined with
developments of AT&T in the U.S. in the early 80's evolved into the
North American Presentation Level Protocol System (NAPLPS), the industry
standard until the invention of the World Wide Web and Hypertext Markup
Experimental use of Telidon began in 1977 and the
first bona fide field trials began in 1979. Commercial market trials began
in early 1981 with Project Ida, conducted by the Manitoba Telephone
System. This evolved into a partnership between Manitoba Telephone and
Infomart, Canada's main videotex software and service provider, to create
Project Grassroots in rural Manitoba in 1982.
Grassroots, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was North America's first
alphamosaic commercial viewdata service with regular subscribers in
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. Its specialty was
farm-related information and services and it was extended into the
Northern United States by 1985.
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