The forerunner of the Internet

Minitel is a French Interactive television/telephone collection of networks and service providers. It is used presently by such countries as France, Australia and Switzerland. It is a form of Teletext and is composed of about 25,000+ service providers. When it was introduced in the early 1980s it became popular with many French users and also those outside France. You can book for example: ferries, check tolls and road conditions, book skiing accommodation, check bank accounts, pay gas and electricity bills, book trains, undertake teleshopping with your credit card and much, much more. By 1989 over 4 million subscribers used the Minitel services.

In the very early 1980s the French Government stated its desire to start two experimental Vidéotex sites; one was in Paris and the other was in Ille et Villaine, situated between Côtes du Nord and Mayenne. The idea was to use a low cost terminal in conjunction with a computerised French Phone Directory. By the end of 1982 the Télétel network had been introduced and there was a launch of the first service to go live: 'Onze'.

French consumers have easy access to all these services with their dedicated terminals and their connect charges are placed directly on their phone bill.  They do not need different accounts with each information provider. Internet appliance type devices are often used to access the Minitel system as well as by public kiosks. Its existence is one reason why those with the Minitel system were less enthusiastic about the Internet than other countries. However, in recent years the Internet has largely taken over many of Minitel's services.

Minitel, a small database retrieval terminal that uses the telephone, was France's first multimedia success

A typical 'Teletext-type' page from the Minitel service

What are the benefits of Minitel?
Minitel offered an array of user friendly services from banking to home-shopping, from instant ticket reservations to instant travel arrangements. Here are just a few of the many advantages of Minitel:

Further information




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