The Acorn Teletext Adapter allowed the BBC Micro to view Teletext transmissions and download software "over the air" (called Telesoftware) that was broadcast as part of the Analogue TV signal. This was a one way system with linited interactivity (you could "reveal" hidden text) but was a useful and solid way of distributing information reaching its peak in popularity in the 1990's before being phased out as the Analogue TV signals are switched off in the UK throughout 2010 to 2012 on a region by region basis. The Ceefax teletext system will finally be turned off for good on the 23rd of October 2012 at 23:30 in Northern Ireland.
My Teletext Adapter became completely obsolete in September 2011 as my television region switched over to a digital signal, but before then, it earnt its keep as a great information gathering tool.
The adapter is capable of being tuned to four different analogue television channels and receiving Teletext signals for each one. Tuning is carried out using the 4 tuning wheels on the read of the adapter. They're very sensitive and tuning in to get a good signal can be tricky but if you're patient you'll get great results.
Switching between the channels and interacting with the Teletext adapter is carried out by way of the function keys on the BBC Micro as can be seen below with the function key strip showing the different functions of the keys. The upper functions on the key strip are reached by using the SHIFT key as a modifier e.g. f0 is the Index function, SHIFT + f0 is the Tuning function. You can also use the numeric keys to type in the number of a specific page to go directly to that information.
I've created a handful of videos that show how Teletext using the Acorn Teletext adapter works and looks (at least until the Analogue signal was turned of in my region in September 2011). All the music on the videos was chosen in order to give you an idea of the type of music that the BBC transmitted to accompany the Teletext signals when they were transmitted as the main TV signal at times where otherwise, the channel would have been off air.
The Teletext adapter required tuning by the turning of the 4 tuner wheels located on the back of the adapter, on screen, you could see the signal strength being displayed in order for you to get a perfect signal.
CEEFAX was the BBC's name for their Teletext service and consisted of hundreds of pages covering numerous topics from News and Politics to Weather to TV listings. The video below covers all of those topics briefly and also shows the CEEFAX pages dedicated to the digital switchover after which time, the Teletext service will no longer be broadcast.
The BBC CEEFAX News service provides a large amount of news for the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. It also provides regional news which is transmitted by the regional TV transmitters.
The BBC broadcast software "over the air" called Telesoftware and the YouTube video below shows how this worked using an Acorn Teletext adapter. Over time, other platforms were supported using the same broadcast technique.