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)
A week ago, Apple announced a redesigned smartwatch that could track heart data, run EKGs, and even detect atrial fibrillation, promising that it would save lives. Today, one of America’s biggest insurers killed its traditional life insurance policies, replacing them with “interactive” insurance that encourages users to use such devices and share the data with […]
It’s in a Japanese “all-you-can-drink” restaurant, which sounds like a splendid idea. Note how it performs a correct angled pour, with headspit finish, to provide a superior pint.
HAL is described as the “world’s most advanced” Pediatric Patient Simulator. Hal simulates lifelike emotions through “dynamic facial expressions, movement and speech.” Gaumard Scientific’s video promises “amazed, transient pain, crying, and more.” [via @3liza] HAL not only looks like a boy, he behaves like one. He can track a finger with his eyes, answer questions, […]
Gone are the days when you needed to pore over a 400-page physics textbook to learn about weight ratios, aerodynamics, and all of those other STEM concepts that let us take to the skies. Thanks to Force Flyers’ DIY Building Block Drones, you can foster your STEM knowledge as you build and fly your own functional […]
As more companies leverage cloud technology to unite and streamline their operations, the need for capable IT pros increases. But, as any IT guru will tell you, demand alone won’t get your foot in the door to this lucrative field. If you want to cash in on the demand and build a thriving IT career, […]
iOS 12 is finally here, which means now is the best time for aspiring developers to throw their hats into the app development game. While app development can be tricky for some, you can take an intuitive, beginner-friendly approach to understanding app creation and Apple’s latest iOS platform with the iOS 12 & Xcode 10 Bootcamp, […]