Minitel: The rise and fall of the France-wide web
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 29/06/2012 14:28
France is switching off its groundbreaking Minitel service which brought online banking, travel reservations, and porn to millions of users in the 1980s. But then came the worldwide web. Minitel has been slowly dying and the plug will be pulled on Saturday.
Many years ago, long before the birth of the web, there was a time when France was the happening-est place in the digital universe.
What the TGV was to train travel, the Pompidou Centre to art, and the Ariane project to rocketry, in the early 1980s the Minitel was to the world of telecommunications.
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France says farewell to the Minitel - the little box that connected a country
It is known as the "Little French Box", a 1980s design classic now seen as the ultimate in beige plastic kitsch. But once it was an audacious precursor to the world wide web, introduced the first cybersex into people's living rooms and had a user-friendly design that may have inspired Steve Jobs's first Macintosh computer.
Yet, on Saturday, the plug will finally be pulled on the Minitel machine, France's one-time pride and joy, 30 years after its launch.
Farmers mourn death of French proto-internet
Three decades after it launched, the Minitel - a French forerunner to the internet that at its height was installed in 9 million homes - will shut down for good on Saturday.
Once at the cutting edge of technology, the Minitel allowed users in France to check the news, search phone directories, buy train and plane tickets, make restaurant reservations and even take part in online sex chats long before similar services existed elsewhere.