Minitel, the Open Network Before the Internet

Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 17/06/2017 21:00

In 1991, most Americans had not yet heard of the internet. But all of France was online, buying, selling, gaming, and chatting, thanks to a ubiquitous little box that connected to the telephone. It was called Minitel.

Minitel was a computer terminal. It housed a screen, a keyboard, and a modem—but not a microprocessor. Instead of computing on its own, Minitel connected to remote services via uplink, like a 1960s mainframe or a modern Google Chromebook. Terminals were given out, for free, to every French telephone subscriber by the state (which also ran the phone company).

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