France Retires First Internet Device

France Retires First Internet Device

image

France bids farewell to the Minitel, after thirty years of cybersex and personal banking.

In the 1970s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, France designed the internet before there was an internet. The Minitel, aka the Little French Box, was built to solve a crippling telecommunications problem, and it did. No good thing lasts forever, and the Minitel - which boasts 800,000 active terminals even today - will be retired on Saturday, with all the fanfare and pomp reserved for the passing of a beloved friend.

The Little French Box was built to connect rural France to the rest of the nation, but it became much more than that. It connected - at its height - over 25 million users to over 23,000 services, including banking, stock trading, travel services, and social networking. Not bad, for a small beige box first brought into the nation's homes in 1978. Moreover it was free; the state designed it, built it, and delivered it to the citizens of France in much the same spirit that they'd provided high speed rail.

It also introduced a grateful nation to the joys of cybersex. Clever entrepreneurs made a mint providing "pink messaging" services and chatrooms to those willing to pay by the minute for love. Then as now it could be difficult to be sure of the gender of your partner. "I'm not called Julie," one frustrated operator typed, ending his phone sex career with an epic outburst. "I'm a man, just here to rack up your phone bill," he said, adding for good measure, "you've been screwed, which was just what you wanted all along."

Minitel's still a popular device in rural France, where farmers and the elderly rely on their faithful Minitel to connect them to the world. To many it represents a time when France built its own technology, rather than relying on imported electronic devices and systems. It had style, clever design, and was a risk-taker. It was uniquely French, in fact - and as of Saturday, it will be no more.

Source: The Guardian

Permalink

So much for socialized stimulation.

Is it just me or did anyone else imagine a military parade in ACSII when reading this article?

Imthatguy:
Is it just me or did anyone else imagine a military parade in ACSII when reading this article?

That's almost true. I used the damn thing a couple of times, and believe me, while the box may be free, nothing else is. Minitel use cost about 0.60 francs (10 Euro cents) a minute, and that's not counting services that cost extra. Given that pages usually took between 2 and 6 minutes to load... Well, you do the math.

Thank god we're done with that thing !

Imthatguy:
Is it just me or did anyone else imagine a military parade in ACSII when reading this article?

The only thing I imagined is how annoying that keyboard would be to try to use.

RamaTheVoice:
That's almost true. I used the damn thing a couple of times, and believe me, while the box may be free, nothing else is. Minitel use cost about 0.60 francs (10 Euro cents) a minute, and that's not counting services that cost extra. Given that pages usually took between 2 and 6 minutes to load... Well, you do the math.
Thank god we're done with that thing !

Amen to that! The Minitel was most certainly *not* free, not in the long run. Its cost was exorbitant, its download speed sluggish at best. I sure won't miss it, then again, I haven't used one since I was 10 (no, I'm not telling you my age ;) ).
As I recall, it was also used to get the results of the national Baccalauréat (the French equivalent of the High School Diploma) and other exams.

Eleima:
I was 10 (no, I'm not telling you my age ;) )

That cheek earned you a visit to your profile.

Funny, that was roughly the time I last used my personal equivalent, the Commodore 64.

Do all French keyboards say "AZERTYUIOP" instead of "QWERTYUIOP" on the top row?

And can you believe that I actually spent two seconds trying to remember how to spell "QWERTYUIOP"?

busterkeatonrules:
Do all French keyboards say "AZERTYUIOP" instead of "QWERTYUIOP" on the top row?

And can you believe that I actually spent two seconds trying to remember how to spell "QWERTYUIOP"?

Yeah, french keyboards are AZERTY instead of QWERTY

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY

Signa:
That cheek earned you a visit to your profile.
Funny, that was roughly the time I last used my personal equivalent, the Commodore 64.

Yeah, I figured that was kinda silly considering I have it posted. XD I just feel like a geezer sometimes when I see all the teens and young twenty something on the site. But, yeah, Commodore 64, those were the good old days, weren't they? ^_^

busterkeatonrules:
Do all French keyboards say "AZERTYUIOP" instead of "QWERTYUIOP" on the top row?

Yeah, and they are a few other tweaks, so the accents are more easily accessible (é, è, ç, à, ù).

Mekado:
Yeah, french keyboards are AZERTY instead of QWERTY
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY

Totally off topic, but your avatar is awesome ( <3 Naheulbeuk <3 ). =)

So what, it was like a separate internet then?

Eleima:

Mekado:
Yeah, french keyboards are AZERTY instead of QWERTY
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY

Totally off topic, but your avatar is awesome ( <3 Naheulbeuk <3 ). =)

Absolutely!, and i have the dwarf's sunny disposition so it fits ;o)

And so ends the story of one of the notable achievements in computer networking. I wonder what the next story will be?

Mekado:
Absolutely!, and i have the dwarf's sunny disposition so it fits ;o)

Heh, I'm rather agile et rusée, we'd get along swimmingly. ^_^

I've been thinking, I think my grandparents still have theirs. Wonder if it'll be worth anything in a few years... XD

The French retiring at 30... I'm not surprised.

This is why you are in debt!!!

--------------------

On a less nationalistic note... fair doos to the people who made this thing as they certainly made it to last xD

renegade7:
So what, it was like a separate internet then?

Internet did not exist in 1978 - or was, at best, still an experiment between Universities. France Telecom (now Orange) would have its own network, which back then was not IP-based, much like ISPs still do today - except now, the networks of these ISPs can reach each other ; hence Inter(connected) Net(works).

Comando96:
The French retiring at 30... I'm not surprised.
This is why you are in debt!!!

While I like a good banter, I should remind you that according to the IMF, France's public debt is 86.26% of the GDP, the public debt of the USA is 102.94% :-)

Furism:
While I like a good banter, I should remind you that according to the IMF, France's public debt is 86.26% of the GDP, the public debt of the USA is 102.94% :-)

And that's just fine as I'm from the UK and I raise your debt to GDP of 86.26%, with the UK's debt of 82.50% DGP :)

Next time, check people's profile nationality ; )

Eleima:
As I recall, it was also used to get the results of the national Baccalauréat (the French equivalent of the High School Diploma) and other exams.

It was so slow that it would've actually been quicker to get in a car and drive to the school where the results were posted than to wait for a page to load...

Furism:
Internet did not exist in 1978 - or was, at best, still an experiment between Universities. France Telecom (now Orange) would have its own network, which back then was not IP-based, much like ISPs still do today - except now, the networks of these ISPs can reach each other ; hence Inter(connected) Net(works).

You could actually access the Minitel service from a computer connected to the internet, I believe the protocols were similar (like BBS, for example).

I'm guessing the Minitel became one of those Inter(connected) Net(works).

Farewell, you magnificent bastard
image
*sniff*

RamaTheVoice:

You could actually access the Minitel service from a computer connected to the internet, I believe the protocols were similar (like BBS, for example).

No you could not. What you could was connect to a gateway which is on one end connected to Internet, and on the other end connected to the Minitel network. The gateway would "convert" the protocols from one side to the other (Minitel network transport was not IP-based but X.25, for instance). This is not an "Inter-Connected" network. On Internet, although there are gateways for IP routing, they don't swap the protocols around to make it look like they are compatible. You keep the same protocols (IP/TCP/HTTP mostly) from the time the request is sent to the time it's received by the server.

Comando96:

And that's just fine as I'm from the UK and I raise your debt to GDP of 86.26%, with the UK's debt of 82.50% DGP :)
Next time, check people's profile nationality ; )

Got me! I could argue that less than 4% difference makes you pretty much as in debt as us, but I'm all for the Entente Cordiale :-)

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here