The last 800,000 Minitel terminals in France will go dark this month, as the service is finally shut down. Minitel was a proprietary network service that used "free" dumb terminals to access online services, typically at a small fee for each use. Minitel was much loved by business because every use generated revenue for them, and by its users, especially when it was the only game in town.
But it's also an existence proof of the power of open systems. Minitel boasts 1,800 services up and running. Imagine if the Web boasted a whopping 1,800 websites -- like the "500-channel cable universe," the numbers that seemed like an unbelievable banquet of choice in the 1980s now seem like a farcically constrained menu, the digital equivalent of the half-dozen standard clothing styles in a Soviet department store.
At the end of this month, Minitel will finally go offline, ending a brave experiment in French exceptionalism. The surprise is that the network has lasted so long.
There are still 810,000 Minitel terminals in France, mostly used by older people who dislike computers. There are still 1,800 services available through Minitel, although most people these days contact them (final indignity) through the Internet.
Argument still rages about whether the Minitel, run by France Telecom and its predecessor, the PTT, was a fast-track into the future or a destructive dead-end. The mushroom-coloured box has become an emblem of France's struggles with a globalised, and allegedly Anglo-Saxon dominated, world.
It has often been argued that the obsession of the French state with the Minitel impeded France's conversion to the Internet. Either way, Minitel itself proved to be a kind of "Neanderthal- technology -” a huge evolutionary advance that was doomed to be swept away by a smarter, more flexible and more aggressive cousin.
Death of an invention
(via Beyond the Beyond)
The new Ikea Catalog is making a big bet on very small living spaces — the kind of place that costs more than half your monthly salary but is too small for a dinner-table, let alone a separate room for your kids, who are supposed to sleep in a bunk-bed in the living room (“Why […]
8Bitdo’s prototype Desktop Arcade Joy Stick is a) an entire retrogame cabinet, complete with controls, display and guts, b) excellently crafted from wood, c) a surprisingly beautiful re-contextualizing of the experience of play. I’d like to own an entire arcadeful of these, in sizes ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet tall, in a colossal […]
Zippo went a bit crazy with its lighter colors, introducing a rainbow of material-science wonders that, alas, I have no more use for, being a 15-year ex-smoker with the muscle-memory of an entire repertoire of obsolete Zippo tricks.
The Lytro Illum is our all-time best-selling camera and here’s our best deal yet. Apply the code “Lytro10” to save an extra 10% off on this camera’s mind-blowing functionality in this exclusive one day only sale.
If you’re looking to earn a top salary in the tech industry, there’s no better career than coding. However, sometimes the hardest part of entering this career path is knowing where to begin.We took the Complete Web Developer Course because it took that decision out of our hands. This course teaches beginner-friendly coding languages that will also help land an immediate […]
To be a Pokémon master, you’ll need a phone that won’t constantly die on you. Because nothing is worse than seeing the screen go black right as you’ve finally found the Charizard of your dreams.That’s why we’re so excited about the LinearFlux PokeCharger Portable Battery ($39.99). With its 3.0 Amp HyperCharging technology, this slim battery will […]