Nicolas Alpi, Web developer

A blog about productivity, startups and me.

France vs England : Minitel

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There are some French inventions wich have never been abroad. And one of these, is the Minitel.

I was speaking with a teammate earlier today, and I made a joke about 3615 Ulla.

When I saw his face, I remembered that only (old?) French people know the Minitel.

Let me explain :

The Minitel looks like a little TV, with a built-in AZERTY keyboard (yes we don’t use QWERTY … this will be for another post) and a very strange brown color. Pluged in the phone plug, it was the ancestor of the Internet, and perhaps of the PC as a Personal Computer.
The first version was in gray scale then a second one took place in color.

With this machine you could be connected to some Minitel pages by some 36 combinations : 3615 yellow pages for example.

Like in Internet we could :

  • Retrieve information and request it
  • Play Games
  • Access pornographic pages and chats (it was the big part of the Minitel success)

The first version appeared in 1982 in France, and the minitel was really established in the French house by 1990.

After that, AOL comes with his 56Ko FREE Unlimited Connection. Then ADSL, then optic fibre … and the minitel is today somewhere in the house, perhaps on a doily, waiting to be open again … just once …

Wikipedia about Minitel