Videotex and Information Services in Hong Kong

To discuss videotex in a comparative context we need some agreed meaning of the term, yet it becomes evident after a little investigation that there is no clearly delineated or universally accepted meaning. Some authors see the videotex as a generic term for “disseminating information electronically for display on terminals or modified TV receivers. The original systems were called Teletext and Viewdata.” (Cakewell, 1991, p.698). The connotation ‘video’ seems to derive from the reference to the terminal as a video display unit, or VDU, since the use of video-tape is not strictly necessary in either broadcast (Teletext) or datacoms (Viewdata) or data transmitted by a telecommunications medium such as a telephone line or a cable which connects computers.

But, according to Chittock (1984) “In other parts of the world, the word videotex is being confusingly applied to denote viewdata; teletext remains the same; but in consequence no other word is used to embrace all systems.” To add to the confusion, the provider of Viewdata services in Hong Kong, HongKong Telecom CSL,  points out that only they in Hong Kong use a recognized videotex standard. The Hong Kong Telephone Company (HKTC) adopted the Prestel system of British Telecom (pioneered by the British Post Office before BT was corporatized) which set the accepted international standard for videotex networking. (CCITT X.430 protocols and T101 terminal standards). All other videotex-type networks in Hong Kong are run on proprietary systems. Does this mean Hong Kong only has one videotex system? This would be a short paper if we defined videotex according to this criterion.



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