Since November 1978 a set of total solar irradiance (TSI) measurements from space is available, yielding a time series of more than 25 years. Presently, there are three TSI composites available, called PMOD, ACRIM and IRMB, which are all constructed from the same original data, but use different procedures to correct for sensitivity changes. The PMOD composite is the only one which also corrects the early HF data for degradation. The results from the detailed analysis of the VIRGO radiometry allow a good understanding of the effects influencing the long-term behaviour of classical radiometers in space. Thus, a re-analysis of the behaviour of HF/NIMBUS-7 and ACRIM-I/SMM was indicated. For the former the situation is complicated by the fact that there are no in-flight means to determine changes due to exposure to solar radiation by comparison with a less exposed radiometer on the same spacecraft. The geometry and optical property of the cavity of HF is, however, very similar to the PMO6-type radiometers, so the behaviour of the PMO6V radiometers on VIRGO can be used as a model. ACRIM-I had to be revised mainly due to a henceforth undetected early increase and a more detailed analysis of its degradation. The results are not only important for solar radiometry from space, but they also provide a more reliable TSI during cycle 21. The differences between the revised PMOD composite and the ACRIM and IRMB are discussed by comparison with a TSI reconstruction from Kitt-Peak magnetograms. As the PMOD composite is the only one which has reliable data for cycle 21, the behaviour of the three solar cycles can now be compared and the similarities and differences discussed.