August 12, 1981, Trinity Square Video Robin Collyer "Open House" poster

The Telidon Art Project began in a series of meetings hosted by David Plant at Trinity Square Video. The first few meetings included John Durno by zoom, David, myself, Nina Beveridge, Geoffrey Shea and Shauna Jean Doughtery. We were there to discuss the recent, simultaneous discovery of hundreds of my Telidon videotex graphics at Artexte in Montreal and John Durno's discovery of Glenn Howarth's Telidon graphics on 5.25" floppy disks at the University of Victoria. We gathered to discuss what this might mean, in the context of expert opinion that Telidon art was long lost. Yet, here it was, popping up when no one was looking for it. 

We considered the fact that Telidon art was lost because nobody was looking for it. Thereafter, looking across the country for more Telidon art became the goal of the Teldion Art Project.

Between 2018 and 2021:

Bill Perry located upwards of 20,000 born digital (Telidon) computer graphics, created 35 to 40 years ago by more than 60 emerging and established Canadian artists, stored on about 110 8" floppy disks, 35 5.25" floppy disks and 33 VHS or Beta videotapes, located in organizational archives such as Trinity Square Video, Toronto Community Videotex, Artexte, the University of Victoria and the personal collections of artists.

Retrofloppy in North Carolina recovered files from 8" floppy disks with almost 100% success. 

Shauna Jean Dougherty at Toronto Community Videotex (aka Interaccess)  secured funds from the Canada Council to send the 8" floppy discs to Retrofloppy in North Carolina and the videotapes to Vtape with remarkable results. Retrofloppy's recover rate was 99% with 110 floppies. Vtape set new benchmarks for the recovery of data from 35 to 40 year old magnetic oxide tapes.  

John Durno, at the University of Victoria library, recovered files from 5.25" floppies disks, arranged storage of all the files we found on a private University of Victoria server, created an online NAPLPS decoder to allow the art to be viewed in any browser and an devised a way to convert old Telidon files into NAPLPS. In Bill Perry's opinion, "John Durno is a modern day Telidon pioneer".

The Teldion Art Project collection has been gifted to the EP Taylor Library and Archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario, .

1979 - The father and 4 four uncles of Telidon

It came from a federal government research lab.

Telidon was created at the Communication Research Council by a team led by Herb Bown,  seated in the photo. The lab was a part of the federal Department of Communications. Some claim that videotex was "invented" in 1978 by an Egyptian working for the British post office based on an idea he had in 1968.

Aaccording to the Order of Canada, Herb Bown was "the father of Telidon". Here isits with all the parts of a Telidon terminal. : 

1979 - Pierre Moretti's Graphic Variations on Telidon


Graphic Variations on Telidon

© Pierre Moretti/NFB

Pierre Moretti, NFB animator, was the first professional  artist asked to test drive the Telidon graphics system. His focus was on the graphics, not interactive videotex. You might want to mute the soundtrack which is vaguely unendurable and completely superfluous. 

“In an effort to explore the flexibility of Telidon, Canada’s videotex system, Pierre Moretti, animation artist from the National Film Board, used, in the graphic mode, the geometric figures which form the basis for Telidon’s picture description instructions. Thus he created this short animated film.” Graphic Variations on Telidon Graphic Variations on Telidon"


The Canadian government pledges to match up to $63 million from private investors to market Telidon as an international standard, thus providing a competitive lead to Canadian companies. 

1980 to 1985 saw 23 field trials set up across Canada, one in every province, each consisting of a central database serving content to Telidon terminals, aka decoders or dumb terminals with user end graphics.


Telidon moved from the research labs of the Department of Communication, Communication Research Centre in the late 70s into joint government/industry field trials in the early 80s.

Canada's tests were limited, measured by the number of people given equipment, compared to 1 million free terminals distributed in France. But, the Canadian trails were precisely targeted. Amongst the 23 trials established across the country, there was at least one in every province. And, every carrier was tested, starting with normal, twisted-pair, copper wires, experimental two way coaxial cable services and teletext, which involved inserting interactive text and graphic presentations into the empty space in the broadcast signal known as the vertical blanking interval (VBI). TVO and CBC both tested teletext.

Telidon was a tentative step in the transfer of computer power from central control to the decentralized periphery, from mainframe computers accessed by dumb, text only terminals to computers in every home, office and pocket. Tentative because it showed the benefit of transferring a bit of intelligence to the user's dumb terminal, to handle graphics meeting minimum consumer expectations.  Tentative relative to the rapid replacement of all dumb terminals resulting from the decentralized proliferation of personal computers, starting in the early 80s.

Telidon became an international standard in 1983 with a joint agreement between Canada and the Unitied States called the North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax aka NAPLPS. In retrospect, it was the beginning of the the end of Telidon in 1985.

Telidon was the last major example of Canada's so called "socialist" government support of private companies competing against the Americans in the international marketplace. 

The Americans considered such subsidies (and free research) to be an unfair trade practice and they were eliminated in 1987 by NAFTA, along with the entire Department of Communications and the Canadian Research Centre, not to mention Telidon.

More recently, in an unpublished memoir of David Parkhill, he relates how the Americans made it clear in 1981 that they would never agree to an international standard that gave Canadian companies a competitive lead over Americans in the international marketplace. The new code had to create a new, level playing field. 

In the end, it was all castles in the sand. The Madison Avenue, corporate, videotex vision of central databases and fancy dumb terminals in homes and offices was steamrolled over by the internet and personal computers from Silicon Valley. The free market, not government/industry/academic subsidized experiments, became the engine of a rapid and widespread digital communication revolution. 



VISTA is launched, the largest of 23 Telidon field trials across Canada, serving 500 residents and businesses in Ontario & Quebec plus users from other field trials.


23 Telidon field trials were established in Canada, at least 1 in every province. Each consisted of a central "database", dozens of $25K "information provider systems" to create content and dozens to hundreds of $2K dumb terminals (called Telidon decoders) with modems connected to the phone to view content. 1000s were located in homes and businesses of VIPS and field trial participants. 

The biggest trial was VISTA, a joint venture between Bell Canada, the Department of Communications and Infomart (a subsidiary of TorStar and Southam). 

Vista deployed a dozen "page creation systems" to "information providers" such as media outlets, educators, etc and placed 500 Telidon decoders in urban and rural residences and businesses in Ontario and Quebec. Telidon decoders from other field trials could also access VISTA, bring the total users to well over 1000.


Computerese: The Electronic Media Magazine

© Bill Perry

Before there were websites, or a web, Bill Perry produced an electronic magazine about electronic media for the VISTA field trial, for an audience of about 1,000 households and businesses, each equipped with Telidon decoders, mostly in Quebec and Ontario.  Computerese was unlike anything else on the VISTA. Much to the aggravation of the corporate information providers such as Torstar, it consistently garnered the most hits every month, sometimes outperforming all the other IPs combined.


"In 1980/81, Les Tietze, Doug Back, Ron Gosbee and I formed a company called Starside Softworks. We set up a studio/ in the old carpet manufacturing building at 1179A King St., near Dufferin. I knew Les, Doug and Ron from the PhotoElectic Arts Department at the Ontario College of Art. Unlike them, I did not study or teach at OCAD. I worked for the PhotoElectric Arts Foundation, a charity run by Richard Hill, who happened to be the head of the similarly named department at OCAD. Through the foundation, I helped with the Toronto Super 8 Film Festival and the Computer Culture shows at Harbourfront. 

Starside Softworks was a for-profit partnership. I don't recall any written or formal agreement, other than four guys sharing the cost a studio space to work on their projects. 

While Les was working on a Telidon decoder on a card for the Apple II, I was getting to know the computer. It was my first exposure to personal computers. Connected to the Apple II was a Norpak Telidon decoder and RGB monitor. 

Around that time, Bell Canada and the federal government issued a request for proposals from "information providers" for the largest Telidon field trial in Canada, known as VISTA. I submitted a proposal to provide 2,000 pages of content. To support my application, I submitted a Telidon graphic I created with a word processor called Apple Pie on Les's Apple II, using the Norpak decoder to test my code. 

Bell Canada was so awed by the graphic they awarded me a $25,000, 600 lb. Digital Equipment Corporation PDP II, upgraded by Norpak to be a Telidon Information Provider System. 

I recall attending the launch of VISTA and being approached by a stranger named Francis Fox who introduced himself as the Secretary of State. He asked if I was Bill Perry and could he use my graphic to launch the VISTA project. Of course I said yes."

Bill Perry "How it started" pt. 1 of 3


Telidon at Trinity Square Video 

TSV is uniquely Canadian and the envy of media artists around the world. It is the oldest (est. 1971) artist equipment access centre in Canada, initially for video artists and than media artists in general. TSV was the role model for many artist-run, media organizations that followed.  

"Telidon at Trinity Square Video" is/was a testimony to the value of artist run, non-profit, equipment access facilities. TSV had the flexibility to process the Telidon at TSV project in the short window of opportunity provided by VISTA.


"Too many artists wanted to check it out the Norpak Information Provider System, it wasn't realistic to locate it in my home. I tried the Starside Softworks studio but administering the flow of traffic to accommodate everyone was too much. I also located the machine briefly at ArtCulture Resource Centre through Derek Dowden and Nancy Patterson.  ARC was a gallery more than access centre and I didn’t feel the equipment was safe in the party atmosphere there. 

That's when I approached Trinity to ask if they would administer access and training on the equipment, as per their usual practices for video equipment. That became known as "Telidon at Trinity Square Video". 

Bill Perry "How It Started" pt. 2 of 3


The Art/Culture Resource Centre (aka ARC).

Video/Video, © 1982 by Ed Mowbray


The early 80s saw rapid growth in the creation of artist run media arts organizations, including Toronto Community Videotex, Charles St. Video and the Art/Culture Resource Centre. Before Bill Perry's Norpak IPS was located at TSV, it spent a few weeks at the Art/Culture Resource Centre.


The Metro Toronto Community Information Centre 

Metro CIC (known today as 311) was one of the first non-profit organizations to create content for the VISTA field trial, using equipment at Trinity Square Video. CIC Director Elizabeth McLuhan sent her staff to Trinity to train and produce content.


The Canada Council 

The Canada Council came to Trinity and asked Bill Perry, Ric Amis and Robin Collyer to create a 72 page, bilingual, Telidon information package for the Canada Council, for distribution on the Cantel Telidon field trial. Cantel was a precursor to Service Canada. This youtube video displays some highlights of the package. 


Toronto Community Videotex 

The Telidon at Trinity Square Video program was so successful it became the videotex tail wagging the video dog at Trinity. It was time to make it a separate organization. Geoffrey Shea, Nina Beveridge and Bill Perry oversaw the task of setting up a non-profit, artist run corporation modelled after TSV called Toronto Community Videotex, incorporated in March of 1983. 

The founding directors included Geoffrey, Nina, Bill, Paul Petro and Wendy Edwards. It was not long after that TCV became an artistic hub that outlasted Telidon and, in 1987, renamed itself and is known today as "InterAccess".


The early 80s in the Toronto art community was notable for the number of new "new media" artist-run centres established, including Charles St. Video, Ed Video, The Art/Culture Resource Centre and Toronto Community Videotex, aka InterAccess.



Byte Magazine

From a government lab in Ottawa to 49 pages in the July 1983 issue of Byte Magazine devoted to Telidon/NAPLPS/videotex 

Canadian Telidon Artists
& Art Hubs

Toronto Community Videotex was not the only Telidon art hub in Canada. Other's existed, most notably at

Unfortunately, with the exception of project participant Bill Perry, we don't have permission to display anyone's art in this presentation. That will come in the exhibitions and projects we support.

Meanwhile, below are two samples of the Telidon art we are restoring, an anonymous graphic and an interative videotex package.

Telidon video artists used Telidon as CGI, to create images and/or animation, usually for video, not intended for interactive videotex.

Video Sample

Four Indigenous Woodland Images

© Unknown Artist, circa 1982

Telidon videotex artists used Telidon for the interactive capabilities, the remarkable function of over-the-phone, text & graphics, quizzing the viewer, delivering a "bespoke" outcome that was simple but impressive.

Videotex Sample

© by Bill Perry

This link leads to an interactive "restoration in progress". 

Imagine a world where there is no mouse, no point & click, no keyboards, only keypads that allow you to choose a number followed by "enter".

Bill Perry in collaboration with Deanne Taylor, The Hummer Sisters and VideoCabaret and with contributions from numerous artists identified in the work.



The beginning of the end of Telidon

Telidon is the Avro Arrow of Canadian art, a casualty of the Canada/USA dispute over using Canadian tax dollars to subsidize private companies like Bell Canada to compete in the international marketplace with American companies like AT&T. The Americans considered such subsidies to be unfair trade practices at best and socialist at worst.  NAFTA put an end to that, shut down the research lab that invented Telidon and the entire federal Department of Communications that oversaw the lab.


"The government's funding of the Telidon efforts came to an official end on 31 March 1985, at which point $69 million had been spent not counting the revenue expended by Infomart who had made national and international sales in excess of $20M."


1985 to 2014

Telidon's descent into obscurity 

Telidon became the international standard that Canadian investors dreamed of. It was the foundation of the Canada/US North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax (NAPLPS), which spread around the globe. Unfortunately, the code was changed deliberately so that all of the Canadian equipment and most of the content became useless, thus wiping out the competitive lead investors were counting on.  Ironically, the winner, NAPLPS, rapidly became the loser when personal computers and the internet rolled over everything.


Telidon disappeared from Canadian art and culture. The "decoders" required to display the graphics were gone. 8" floppy disks were replaced by 5.25" floppys which were replaced by pocket drives and USB sticks. Telidon/NAPLPS had a temporary second life in the USA as a popular BBS platform and shopping mall information systems. 

In the end, the entire videotex vision was usurped by the unexpected arrival of the personal computer. And, the internet became the international standard. Originally established in the 50s by the US military for industrial, scientific and academic research, the internet became the true international standard, like a global, wild west, colossus, without government subsidies or government/industry oversight, financed solely by consumers.


Curated by Maiko Tanaka

52 black & white photos of interactive screens from ART vs Art, pinned to the wall in a tree structure, database pattern, like dead butterflies. It was all that was left of my art, found in the InterAccess archives.


"In 2014 I met Maiko Tanaka at InterAccess to discuss my participation in an exhibition she was curating (about dead art) called Mean Time To Upgrade. It was the first time I had contact with InterAccess since the 80s. To be honest, I was surprised to find out it still existed"

I explained to Maiko that I had nothing to offer the show. All of my Telidon art was gone. All that was left were some old newspaper clippings. The end of Telidon led me to a new profession in the 80s, i.e. print publishing. 

As Maiko and I were talking, we were going through a couple of boxes she brought out from the IA archives. Therein we found 52, B&W, 4X5 Ric Amis photographs of screens of my videotex documentary about the 1982 Toronto municipal election entitled "ART vs Art".  

The photos became my contribution to Maika's exhibition: photos of interactive screens stuck on the wall like pinned butterflies, in a pattern resembling the Telidon tree structure navigation.  It was an apt metaphor for state of Telidon art.

Bill Perry


The first last word on Telidon art: "Lost" 

(aka  "Doomed")


With all due respect to Jordon Pearson and Motherboard, this is an example of non-investigative journalism.  I don't think the journalist investigated his conclusion and by the time he realized it was wrong, he had a deadline to meet.


John Durno at the University of Victoria recovers lost Glenn Howarth Telidon graphics from 5.25" floppy disks


100's of Glenn Howarth's Telidon artworks are recovered from 5.25" floppy discs by John Durno, Head of Library Systems at the University of Victoria is tasked with recovering Telidon art from floppy disks belonging to Canadian artist Glenn Howarth.  Tools developed by John will be used recover art from dozens of 5.25" disks of other artists.

According to Bill Perry "John is a modern day pioneer of Telidon technology"


Helene Brousseau at Artexte in Montreal finds 72 minutes of lost Bill Perry Telidon graphics on a VHS tape.


In 2017, a 35-year-old VHS recording of 72 minutes of Bill Perry's videotex work was discovered in the Artexte archives in Montreal. Included was hundreds of graphics and almost all of his videotex documentary entitled "ART vs Art", about the 21 day campaign/performance "A Hummer For Mayor" by VideoCaberet and the Hummer Sisters, during the 1982 Toronto municipal election. Artexte made a video documentary about the discovery entitled Around Computerese: The Electronic Media Magazine.

The analog video was recovered from the tape by Vtape, who went on to do an excellent job of recovering video from 32 more tapes from the early 80s.


Lost images began appearing in exhibitions, such as the InterAccess Instagram #telidon Exhibition


#telidon is an Instagram social media campaign celebrating the organization’s 35th Anniversary and the little known Canadian technology that started it all, Telidon. Each week from April - June we will post a still/video created using Telidon on our Instagram account, @interaccessTo. Follow along as we map the history of Telidon technology and explore its central role in the founding of InterAccess and its influence on Canadian media art practice."



"Found" is the new last word on Telidon Art

(2nd to last: "Spectacular")

It is a story with legs. Masterpieces of  computer art were created in the early 80s when an unheard number of emerging and established Canadian artist were encouraged to get creative with Telidon.  Dozens of artists  used Telidon technology to create video or videotex ( interactive) art. 

Then it all disappeared, with the exception of a single videotape of Paul Petro's "Canadian Artists and Telidon" and miscellaneous print reproductions of Telidon graphics.

As recently as 2015 media pundits were lamenting the loss of this treasure trove of Canadian creativity. Given that disks and tapes are made of magnetic oxide which has a shelf life of 15 to 20 years, it was assumed there was no hope to recover anything from 35+ year old media.

Then, almost simultaneously, 100s of graphics by two of Canada's most prolific Telidon artists were "discovered" in archives, one in Montreal and the other at the University of Victoria. 

This challenged the assumption that Telidon art was lost and a few intrepid artists began searching for more art on floppy disks and videotapes in organizational archives and personal collections.

At present, we have located AND safely recovered over 10,000 Telidon graphics found on about 130 floppy disks and 33 videotapes created by more than 40 artists almost 40 years ago. 

Here are some of the artists whose work we have recovered 


  • Venice Exhibit
  • Videophile
  • Democracy at Work
  • Selected Retrospective 
  • Demo "Free Will"
  • Proposal 30
  • Democracy at Work


  • Democracy: The Movie
  • Sun Beach 11
  • Wands Drips Witch
  • Various logos, etc.


  • Nadia's Crime
  • Inferno Master
  • Bleak Madonna
  • Arcsea, Into, Spirale & To
  • One Hour of Love


  • Computerese: The Electronic Media Magazine 
  • Sketch Book Samples 
  • ART vs Art
  • Pictures of Democracy
  • Tom, Dick & Harry
  • Demo Disk (on tape)
  • Canada Council Promo
  • Metro CIC
  • Tip Top Tailors
  • Videopage


  • Baggy Shorts
  • Figure Studies
  • Snoot & Mutley
  • Wag The Flag
  • Computer Graphics 
  • Above The Law
  • 1983 Sao Paulo Biennale 


  • My Media My Self
  • Expo ’86 Videotex Installation
  • Queen East Cubism Backup
  • Canadian Artists and Telidon
  • 1983 Sao Paulo Biennale 
  • His "N Hers


  • “Empty Objects”
  • (How to Avoid)
    Cold Toast
  • The Photograph, The Image
  • Application


  • Digacon
  • Eastern Electric Art
  • 1983 Sao Paulo Biennale 


  • Canada Council Promo
  • Photo Documentation


  • Town Council
  • Why Vote? 
  • Mojah Rastafari

M. Nash

  • Sailboats 
  • Reclining Nude


  • Greg Hermanovic Portfolio

Indigenous Artists

  • 4 Woodland Images
  • Moon Mask


  • Us and/or Them
  • Believable, if not always true.
  • Shopping for Values
  • The Information Gap


  • Canada Council Promo
  • How Many Fingers?
  • Trinity Square Video Open House Poster


  • Norpak IPS-2 699
  • Oh Baby
  • By The Strings


  • Samples
  • Samples


  • Grey Broadcast 
  • Anima Rising
  • Mona Lisa
  • What is it about today's Renaissance Woman that makes her so attractive?
  • Selections


  • Ardmore
  • GREE
  • 1984 NAPLPS
  • Louis Riel
  • The Electronic Classroom
  • Electromagnetism
  • Electronic Engineering


  • TCV Electronic
    Brochure, July 87
  • Vox Pop


  • NAPLPS Finals
  • Ineternal  Imbalance
  • The Art


  • Ideas 
  • Selections
  • Axis
  • 1983 Sao Paulo Biennale 


  • Mummy
  • Mummies
  • 1983 Sao Paulo Biennale 


  • Samples


  • Computer Graphics


  • Godin Portfolio


  • David Brown 


  • Samples


  • Samples


  • Retrospective

Hunt Sr.

  • Raven

Peter B. Fortey

  • Images I


  • Into
  • Arcsea
  • Spirale
  • To


  • Beyond Democracy +=>

Elizabeth Vander

  • Elizabeth Vander Zaag


  • Graphics Compilation


  • June 21, 1985


  • Robot Walking Dog


  • Number 1


  • Amy Greenbaum 


  • Okada Shizuko


  • Tip Top Telidon


  • Peter McAdam

A. J.

  • How Many Fingers?


  • Andre Jodin 


  • C. Katz Portfolio



Suzanne M.


Juan Gomez