AT&T Archives: Viewtron Introduction, from the Viewdata Corporation

See new films from the AT&T Archives every Mon, Wed, Fri, at techchannel.att.com The Viewdata Corporation, a company formed by joint arrangement between AT&T and Knight-Ridder, launched the Viewtron system commercially in 1983. Initially, in 1980 and 1981, it had only 200 users, a test market. By 1984? 2700 subscribers. Two and a half years later, the service had expanded to around 15 cities up and down the east coast, and 15000 users. They even had developed software that would allow IBM, Commodore and Apple computer users (who also had modems) to access the system. The Sceptre system that allowed for TV access had the same microprocessor as a contemporaneous personal computer. But it was not enough to keep the business afloat — after expending over 50 million on the system, the grand information networking experiment that was Viewtron ended. Since hindsight is always 20/20, this was no surprise: for example, one year into the project, one of the online shopping sites had only logged a paltry 11 direct orders — significant, when that was one of the main selling points of the Viewtron system (especially according to this video). This film is about Viewdata, and about the particulars of the Viewtron that led the company to believe, or hope, it would be a success. That said, Viewdata’s executives, even during the company’s existence, also were pragmatically aware of its shortcomings, especially monetarily. Though they wanted it to be “The McDonald’s of videotex”(quote from
Video Rating: 5 / 5