The French Minitel never ceases to amaze me.
In 1984 the government allowed developers to create services for the Minitel. The government took a 30% cut and passed the rest on to developers (sound familiar?) creating the world's first app store. From a user's perspective using apps on the Minitel was frictionless - you were just billed for what you used through your phone bill.
How big was this app store? In the nineties it was pulling in over a billion USD a year! This is an astronomical sum when you consider France's population size. Though the crossover point is near, the Minitel in its lifetime paid out more to developers than Apple has to iOS developers to date. Companies would advertise their apps in the subway, on highway billboards, and on television.
Amazing. This could very well be the first application store, something many people think is a new phenomenon invented by Apple.