what i'm scraping today: microstar graphics editor for dos.

flashback to last year when I saw this video about artists from toronto who made graphics for a short lived videotex service, Telidon.


im left with two questions.

1. how to i get a copy of "Canadian Artists and Telidon". i think it's only on vhs. i'm not canadian. help.

2. what was the telidon technology like? especially the graphics protocol.

i have no answers for question 1, but i here's what I found about question 2.

the telidon standard went on to become NAPLPS, which was used for other videotex services like viewtron, and the online service prodigy.

more info about telidon technology: madrona.ca/e/telidon/index.htm

i went looking for a more detailed summary of the spec, and found this old usenet post. but my next clue was in the first few paragraphs: the author had put some NAPLPS editing software in the simtel archive (an old software archive that used to be on CD-ROM and FTP.)


simtel is still around on archive.org and other places. i found the software, which is called microstar graphics editor. got it running in freeDOS. now i can make my own telidon style art. except the interface suuuuuuucks.

like, if you want to delete something, you cant just hit the delete key. you gotta select the shape, go through some menu, and pick "delete."

oh and "send to front / send to back" is weird to. you can only select two shapes and swap orders. and to confirm, you right click. wtf


so NAPLPS is vector graphics + text, with palette cycling options, and apparently some escape characters for making presentations out of different screens. there are no bezier splines, so you have to make all the curves out of little straight lines.

it feels like im designing graphics for public access or the weather channel.

(hello nj!)

learned a lot more too. started reading old news articles about videotex services long gone. discovered a NAPLPS decoder for p5.js. went down the rabbithole of different vector graphics standards used in BBS doors. too much to list here.

ok i'll share this one thing. did you guys read the tedium.co article about the silent Genesis StoryTime cable channel? the graphics were all NAPLPS being sent to old telidion decoders installed at cable tv headends.

good nite.


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