Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Jun 2012 23:15 UTC
Internet & Networking "Long before the coming of the World Wide Web, the Minitel provided a sort of internet-in-one-country. Long before Facebook, Google or Twitter - millions of French people went 'online' daily to search for information, to book their holidays, chat to strangers or seek cheap (or not so cheap) sexual thrills."
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Another notable French "pre-internet"
by zima on Sat 16th Jun 2012 00:03 UTC
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CYCLADES - its spirit very much lives on in the internet

PS. Curiously, it seems that CYCLADES was essentially forcibly terminated to not compete with Minitel, or at least its underlying (less forward-thinking, evidently) technology.

Edited 2012-06-16 00:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Sat 16th Jun 2012 00:04 UTC
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

That article seems to confuse the web for the internet (the web was invented in the 90s, the internet has been around several decades longer). Also it mistakenly called the internet (which I presume the reporter meant web) was a US invention when France (read CERN) had just a big involvement in the emergence of both those technologies.

However web technicalities aside, it was an interesting read

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Laurence
by henderson101 on Sat 16th Jun 2012 14:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Tim Berners-Lee is most definitely English. I'd therefore say, CERN was just the setting, and the Web (as a concept) was British (though, all here ally did was build on existing ideas.)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by zima on Fri 22nd Jun 2012 22:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What a "most definitely English", living in Massachusetts ;p

Though, really, the web probably more or less grew from the international character of CERN campus.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Laurence
by 123soleil on Sat 16th Jun 2012 22:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
123soleil Member since:
2009-11-15

"France (read CERN) had just a big involvement in the emergence of both those technologies."

Although partly on the border, CERN is actually in geneva which is in switzerland, not France.

Edited 2012-06-16 22:19 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Sun 17th Jun 2012 23:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

"France (read CERN) had just a big involvement in the emergence of both those technologies."

Although partly on the border, CERN is actually in geneva which is in switzerland, not France.

CERN is a European organisation, not Swiss. Thus the location of their HQ is irrelevant.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by zima on Fri 22nd Jun 2012 20:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

You yourself more or less assigned CERN to one specific country in the first post...

Also,

the web was invented in the 90s, the internet has been around several decades longer

not really / depends what we mean by "internet" - Internet Protocol for example has been really around a decade longer. And while it built on some earlier "decades" old networks - most of them weren't quite it yet (and some which were quite similar, like the mentioned nearby CYCLADES - yeah, French - didn't leave direct descendants)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by zima on Fri 22nd Jun 2012 22:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Although partly on the border, CERN is actually in geneva which is in switzerland, not France.

Though the CERN building in which the web was born is, in fact, in France ;)

http://davidgalbraith.org/uncategorized/the-exact-location-where-th...

Reply Score: 2

Souvenirs..
by JimProfit on Sat 16th Jun 2012 02:10 UTC
JimProfit
Member since:
2011-08-03

Usually services where acceded through kiosk number, the most used was 3615. The rate of 3615 services were like 10 € per hour. So a lot of minitels where decommissionned by their user because of the big invoice they received..

It was a real cash cow for state-owned France Telecom (FT), the only french operator at the time, and for the french state who funnelled a lot of FT profit to its budget.

So they had no that much interest in seeing Internet become generally available, the same applied to the editors of Minitel services, who also made a lot of money.

IMHO the telecom liberalization, which was decided at least european-wide, and especially the french regulatory agency allowed for widely available, cheap internet through ADSL. (they prevented FT to kill competition by using cheap price that only them could sustain, and forced FT to offer local loop unbundling at a reasonable price, BTW FT still has the monopoly of copper lines)

Not everything has changed, the french state is still the biggest FT shareholder and is suspected of influencing the regulatory agency for FT profit. IMHO they are not doing everything to help optical fiber penetration, as the concurrent can deploy their own lines without paying anything to FT (still, they often lend FT network sheaths

As for greediness: for the 2011 year FT shareholders perceived a dividend of € 4.4 billions, when the net profit was only of € 3.7 billions. (sic)

At the same time the mass-medias heavily publicized the distress of FT employees, who suffered a abnormally high suicide rate, and the french state expressed his profound sympathy for them. There weren't much media to point the fact that as the main shareholder the french state could be somewhat responsible for FT work condition degradation.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Souvenirs..
by spiderman on Sat 16th Jun 2012 08:49 UTC in reply to "Souvenirs.."
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

36-15 ULLA
(Very well known site on the Minitel some 30 years ago or so)

Edited 2012-06-16 08:50 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Souvenirs..
by zima on Fri 22nd Jun 2012 23:39 UTC in reply to "Souvenirs.."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

At the same time the mass-medias heavily publicized the distress of FT employees, who suffered a abnormally high suicide rate

Curious... IIRC there was something like that about the workers of our more or less national Polish Telecom - which is largely owned by FT.

Anyway, a nice 1990 TV programme about Minitel that one: Computer Chronicles: High Tech France http://archive.org/details/frenchtech1
(but, ugh, nobody thought or could synchronise the cameras with monitor refresh rates - or just use European 50 Hz cameras - and do 2:3 pulldown for transmission)

Curious at 5m mark: supposedly the rapid expansion of French telephone network was making editions of paper phonebooks quickly obsolete, so electronically accessed directory had clear benefits.

10m judging from poster, there was not only ULLA, also... ELENA at least? ;)

News at the end... oh my, upcoming win 3.0 introduction, "3D on-screen look" and a mention of then-available tablet ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GRiDPad )

And WTH the closing scene was about, Paris mood got to them? ;)

(also, in the ending of 2nd part - patent insanity already then, about obvious ideas, not implementing them)


http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=1195&st=1
also curious, a computer using Minitel terminal as its keyboard, modem, display. I wondered once why barely any computers used teletext as output, would save quite some RAM in those times (I guess because not many TVs had in turn expensive itself teletext in the first place)

Reply Score: 2

more souvenirs
by JimProfit on Sat 16th Jun 2012 02:20 UTC
JimProfit
Member since:
2011-08-03

The standard minitel speed was 1200 bps download speed, and 75 bps upload (barely enough for fast typing).

Some minitel models had a serial port so they could be used as a modem.

There were some non-commercial minitel BBS directly accessible through PSTN, a lot of them used minitels as modems.

Some even offered file transfer services: when you wanted to upload a file the minitel offered the possibility of exchanging the bandwith between upload and download, which made the operation at least barely bearable.

These kind of BBS more of less died when FT practically doubled the local rate..

Reply Score: 1

Will go blank....
by jaxx on Sat 16th Jun 2012 10:09 UTC
jaxx
Member since:
2006-10-18

Looks like The Independant really doesn't like France by the tone they use... And though it (minitel) did slow down the adoption of Internet in households, we've more then caught up since, and on many aspects, speed, services, price etc..., and there are not many countries that could argue against that...

Anyways, bottom line is that Minitel will go blank not because it is directly targetted, but mainly because the X25 network it relies on, the most dense one ever built, is being decommissioned.

Reply Score: 3

MORB
Member since:
2005-07-06

We have in france one ISP called Iliad (aka Free) that did a lot for internet adoption and competition on france. They were the first to offer a quadruple play offer, they are a technological pioneer regarding TV over IP, they not only operate their own network but also build their own networking equipment, and their services are very geek-friendly. And most importantly, their aggressive pricing prevents other ISPs from gouging their prices too much.

They are now also doing their magic in the cellular network space, where they are offering since earlier this year mobile phone subscriptions with very aggressive pricing to the utter dismay of the three other french mobile phone companies.

The kicker? They made the money that allowed them to do all this because they used to be the largest phone sex and minitel sex service operator.

Edited 2012-06-16 17:03 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Minitel vs. Internet
by matako on Sun 17th Jun 2012 06:25 UTC
matako
Member since:
2009-02-13

There is no doubt that Minitel must have been seen as some sort of a competing technology... but to declare it as a major impediment to Internet adoption in France is probably a bit of an exaggeration.

For starters, this article from 1995 claims that (at the time) " France now boasts one of the world's more significant growth curves in Internet usage."

http://www.dlib.org/dlib/december95/12kessler.html

So whom to believe?

Edited 2012-06-17 06:28 UTC

Reply Score: 1

the title is already wrong
by zebul666 on Sun 17th Jun 2012 07:31 UTC
zebul666
Member since:
2008-05-28

the title is already wrong. "France did not fell out of love with the Minitel"

It just faded away in the gloomy fog of history without anyone noticing except, may be, the 35+ years old, that have experienced the Minitel, at least once.

Don't ask a teenager what it is, she will not know. The glorious years of the Minitel were the late 80's and early 90's.

Who cares now, when you have internet on your mobile ??

Reply Score: 3