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videotex /n. 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.
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