videotexn. obs. An electronic service offering people the privilege of paying to read the weather on their television screens instead of having somebody read it to them for free while they brush their teeth. The idea bombed everywhere it wasn't government-subsidized, because by the time videotex was practical the installed base of personal computers could hook up to timesharing services and do the things for which videotex might have been worthwhile better and cheaper. Videotex planners badly overestimated both the appeal of getting information from a computer and the cost of local intelligence at the user's end. Like the gorilla arm effect, this has been a cautionary tale to hackers ever since. See also vannevar.
any electronic interactive system that delivers information to users via telephone lines to personal computers (PCs) or via cables to terminals. Such a service provides information, usually in text form, about news, education, business, entertainment, shopping, and more. Some also provide message services and graphic and audio information. The term videotex was formerly applied to electronic interactive systems of this type.
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