June 29, 2012, 11:10 AM —
30 plus years is a long run for a text-based information network run by the French government.
June 30 is the day France Telecom pulls the plug on the half million or so Minitel terminals still active (ars technica). First rolled out in Brittany for a test, then nationwide, the service remains popular with farmers. Also popular on Minitel? Porn, or at least text-based cyber-sex chats and "escort" arrangements.
Often called the precursor to the Internet and World Wide Web, Minitel looked like an electronic bulletin board or early CompuServe. However, 25 million users used the no-charge hardware (paid for by per-minute connection charges) to access more than 23,000 various services (Guardian). Unable to export the system, and steamrolled by the Internet starting in the mid 1990s, Minitel fades into history tomorrow.
Ah, the memories
I remember, we had one at home!
CodeVentures on arstechnica.com
You could order show tickets, cabs, post to BBSes, pay bills, phone lookups -- France reduced the need for paper directories long before the rest of the world caught up.
lophat on arstechnica.com
I knew the game was up well before Jacques Chirac tried to boost national moral during his first mandate by saying during a televised speech something along the lines of; "And although, my compatriots, the Americans have the Internet, we, the French, have the Minitel." I was rather saddened at his naivity.....
fripouille on guardian.co.uk
No tears here
Let's not forget, however, that while notable, Minitel was a dead end technology on arrival.
The User on arstechnica.com
I still have memories of the pain inflicted on my fingers by THE WORST KEYBOARD EVER!
palad1 on arstechnica.com
What technology did you grow up with that will cause a tear when it finally dies?