Minitel, France's precursor to the Web, to go dark on June 30
When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, I got to spend a few weeks with my French extended family at their country house east of Paris. Nearly each night, I watched my uncle stare into a small, old, dusty computer to monitor the results of the Tour de France. The little beige box had a fold-down keyboard and a pretty old-school text-only interface, even by mid-'90s standards. This was a Minitel.
The Minitel, I learned later, was France’s proto-Web computer. It dates back to 1978, well before the Web was invented just over the French border in Switzerland (and even longer before it became commercially available). The former French telco monopoly gave away the hardware for free, but charged for each individual call to various lines—analogous to websites.
But on Saturday, June 30, 2012, France Telecom will finally pull the plug on the hundreds of thousands of users that are left after over three decades of service—a demise announced about a year ago. At its peak in the mid-1990s, the Minitel had 25 million users.
- Tue, 2013-04-30 18:06
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