Alex (videotex service)

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Alextel unit
Alex was the name of an interactive videotex information service offered by Bell Canada in market research from 1988 to 1990 and thence to the general public until 1994.

The Alextel terminal rented to customers was a NAPLPS terminal with CRT, attached keyboard, and a 1200 bit/s modem for use on regular phone lines. In 1991 proprietary software was released for IBM PCs that allowed computer users to access the network.

The system operated in the same fashion as Minitel, whereby users connected to various content providers. The most popular (and most expensive) sites were chat rooms. Using the service could cost as much as 0.30 C$ per minute, and many users terminated their subscription upon receiving their first invoice.

The advent of the World Wide Web contributed to making this service obsolete. On 1994-04-29, Bell Canada sent a letter to its customers announcing that the service would be terminated on 1994-06-03. In that letter, Mr. T.E. Graham, then Director of Business Planning for Bell Advanced Communications, stated that "Quite simply, the ALEX network is not the right vehicle, nor the appropriate technology, at this time to deliver the information goods needed in our fast-paced society."

The Alextel terminal is reportedly usable as a dumb terminal for VT100 emulation.


  • Serge Proulx (1991). The Videotex Industry in Québec: The Difficulties of Mass Marketing Telematics.
  • David Leibold, "ALEX Service Starting in Toronto, Montreal", message <> posted to comp.dcom.telecom on 1990-03-04
  • Dave Leibold, "Bell Canada Alex Videotex Service Officially Closing", message <> posted to comp.dcom.telecom on 1994-05-10.
  • Jakub Dalek, "Re: Terminal Woes (AlexTel)", message <> posted to comp.terminals on 2003-06-25

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