Official 4-Day Prestel Training Manual, Including Thorn 9650
My thanks to Jim @jcdaze who attended a 4-day training course in the late 1970s, on the Prestel service and provided me with a scan. This course included the Thorn 9650. I've created an article in the Blog Knowledge Base where the historic and interesting glimpse into Prestel will be preserved.
Again, thanks to Jim for taking the time to scan it. 👍
The course notes mention the use of the -769 cabinet and here it is, obvious where all the extra electronics went. I'm pretty certain there was also a third model, again 26" but on a stand and no doors, the model number escapes me. Never saw a Prestel set in the workshop or field as I think uptake was extremely low for domestic consumption. Prestel later morphed into Micronet 800 for the home computer market.
The picture came from the DVD "Boys from the Blackstuff: Yosers story". Don't think that loudspeaker on top would have done the purity any favours.
I installed one Prestel set in a home, an ITT, I went on a one day training session in Farnworth near Bolton. Small 16 inch or similar, no idea why they wanted it and I didn’t see it for repair but that’s reasonable has I left the trade within 12 months. They were expensive to buy and ran up telephone bills.
For some business a boon, for domestic a flop.
In the French MiniTel system the terminals were provided free that helped the system to flourish, ran for 30 years.
Minitel: The rise and fall of the France-wide web http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18610692
After attending that 4 day course I only ever had dealings with a couple of the sets equipped with Prestel, the cost per page to view was, I think, 10p or 50p depending on content. I do remember that they were a heavy old beast with the Prestel gubbings in the bottom of the cabinet.
Interesting, I never saw any Thorn 9650 Prestel sets. Two showrooms had Philips G11 Prestel receivers in prominent position and were very expensive, but I think they may have been there on a sale or return basis. It was also quite pricey to have an approved socket fitted by the GPO together with a long wait for installation. How things have changed. There was public interest but it was a while before we sold these sets with both going to businesses, one a travel agent.
Tandata formed from Tangerine computers produced their Tantel Prestel adapter which was a self contained box and connected to the set via the UHF aerial connector. Although a lot cheaper, they did not sell and the boss finally passed all remaining stock on through the trade.
Rediffusion at their R&D site in Chessington were prototyping a Prestel system possibly to eventually integrate with the MkIV chassis. It was a job interview round about 1979 and had a lengthy discussion with the senior design engineer, and if memory serves the development was based around an Zilog Z80 CPU .
I am pretty sure that when I bought this house in 1986 that the estate agent had a small Prestel terminal in the office - 14" portable TV size. I used to have the Mullard guide to the chipset for teletext and Prestel - the heart of the latter being the SAA5070 'LUCY' device IIRC.
I had a little sony viewdata terminal in the workshop for ordering from CHS.
I used to have the Mullard guide to the chipset for teletext and Prestel
Produced in 1985, it can be found in the data library. If you want a copy, look under Television/Teletext 👍
Ah, those far-off days when you could write to Torrington Place and get all manner of interesting books and leaflets FOC - I think I still have the short-form component guide from Mullard ("short-form" here meaning a thick A5-size book!). I think that was the time I got the Teletext booklet as well. One of my BBC colleagues made a genlockable SPG out of the SAA5030 🙂
Also lurking is a thick A5 book on data converter and other ICs by Ferranti, no less.
I've just downloaded the Philips/Mullard file - that's later than the one I had. Mine covered all the SAA50xx devices, as used in the VM6101 decoder.
Mindful of what we've said about the library, there's a future incentive to see if mine can be found, because my issue is roughly contemporaneous with the Texas TIFAX decoders.