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Au revoir Minitel: France kills 'vintage' internet

Au revoir Minitel: France kills 'vintage' internet

Fri June 29, 2012 1:50pm

IT'S time to start saying your goodbyes, because tomorrow France will pull the plug on the internet.

Well, an internet – the vintage system in use during the ‘80s before the world wide web took off and slowly killed it.

The France Telecom service “Minitel” was launched in Brittany in 1978 and used by millions during its heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s - mainly for banking, travel reservations and watching porn - (funny how things never change).

The device looked like a computer with a black and white screen, came in trademark beige and worked through a connection to the house telephone.

In 1997 the then President, Jacques Chirac, boasted about the technology: "Today a baker in Aubervilliers knows perfectly how to check his bank account on the Minitel. Can the same be said of the baker in New York?"

France Telecom‘s Karin Lefevre said Minitel may have looked old fashioned "but it was simple to use”.

“You pressed a button and did something. Just like on a tablet today," she told the BBC.

Interestingly, Minitel brought with it the same kind of concerns we hear about today.

Newspapers were worried it would cut into their commercial interests. So France made a rule that only registered newspapers could provide services on the "vintage" web technology.

Soon the service was expanded to include weather reports, exam results, uni applications, stock prices and other information.

The technology was also adopted for adult chat lines where users would pay to type their darkest fantasies into the device, where it would be received by an anonymous date on the other end.

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