Casandro is a German engineer in information technology. He is a member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and interested in older technology, both from its technological as well as its social side. His article on Bildschirmtext as a potential alternative to web services made the front page of Die Datenschleuder ( His first contact with the teletext family of standards came when his parents got their first teletext-capable TV set. This opened another window into the world, particularly as Austrian television soon carried a teletext course on teletext. In recent years, he has been fixing BTX decoders, has restored pages from tapes, and set up BTX dialup numbers.



Bildschirmtext was the German version of France's Minitel. The technology and the culture both shaped the German hacker community and provides a vision for a world beyond our current mess with web services.

It's particularly important due to the so-called BTX-Hack. The Chaos Computer Club (CCC) got the login credentials for the BTX user account of the bank they had their account at. They used it to access their own donation page repeatedly, generating a fairly high bill. They publicized the hack right from the beginning and clearly stated that they just wanted to expose the security issue and didn't want the money. The TV report about it featured an interview with the manager of that bank praising the CCC for its work.

The other aspect of Bildschirmtext is that its technical standards were meant to be extended. Apart from your standard text terminal, provisions for vector and pixel graphics as well as audio were defined right from the start. Today, the same idea could be extended to provide multimedia services on top of plain text terminal sessions. This could be a much simpler alternative to the ever growing complexity of web services.

This talk will focus mostly on the things that made Bildschirmtext unique as well as the ideas behind it.