The Minitel, or the Internet of the 80’s!

In France, in the mid-1970s, the President of the Republic was called Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and many experts wondered about the advent of “telecomputing”. CNET Engineers (for National Center for Telecommunications Studies) then strive to refine their vision of the telematics “, word clarification composed by the terms” telecommunications “i” Computer science Considerable financial resources are invested in this experiment, which will lead to the creation of the Transpac network, and a few years later, to the arrival among millions of French of a certain Minitel.

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Since we haven’t always had a 4K screen in front of our eyes, an OLED HDR smartphone in our hand and wireless drivers on our knees, PasTech offers you a small return to the past, to the (re) discovery of certain emblems . products that have made (or not) the history of technology. So we say 5, 4, 3, 0 and then boom, PasTech!

3615 lemon squeezer

In the early 1980’s, this good old corded telephone, usually installed on a small piece of wooden furniture intended solely for this purpose, and covered with a cloth ” so as not to damage it is present in many homes. Obviously, there was no Internet at the time, no mobile network, no Facebook, no other Google, and Minitel then sought to become an essential platform for information, but also for entertainment, all relying on the telephone network. existing.

© Wikipedia

On this subject, we recall that the telephone sessions were much less confidential than the current ones, the interlocutor was very often sitting in the chair installed next to the headset, certain parents with mustaches and pants of the type “flare “ feel free to bring the headset (located on the back of the handset) to your ear to have a conversation. Remember? Well, well it is in this context that the Minitel is launched.

Initially, the tests organized by the PTT focus on only a few thousand homes, one of the main goals of minitel is to replace this expensive (and thick) phone book. The older ones of you will no doubt remember the indispensable “Yellow Pages” and “White Pages” of the time, which will be renewed every year. It was in 1982 when Minitel was launched, with production then reserved for three manufacturers, namely Matra, Philips and Alcatel.

All can be connected to the Télétel network (the Minitel first had to be connected to the wall telephone socket), with online services accessible from the telephone network, and a very specific command. The first use of the Minitel was the 3611, which gave access to an online telephone directory service … and we must admit that it was a small revolution!

Minitel directors

An amazing looking minitel, which obviously took various forms depending on the manufacturer and generation. The first models were equipped with a “T” socket for connection to the telephone network, and a V23 modem, which allowed downloads of 1,200 bit / s in reception and 75 bit / s in transmission. On the screen, the images are displayed in mosaic mode, some models are equipped with a color screen, while others have had to settle for some shades of gray. Some had a fixed keyboard, while others took advantage of a sliding keyboard, which slid under the screen when the Minitel was not in use, or even a pivoting keyboard, which covered the screen.

Note that the first models came with an alphabet-type keyboard. Later models quickly opted for “QWERTY” type keyboards, to the delight of regulars and novices alike. The connection procedure was fairly straightforward, as you had to turn on your Minitel, dial 3615 (or another) on your phone, wait for the beep to confirm the connection, and press the “Connect / End” button on the phone. your Minitel before uploading. combined.

© Wikipedia

Quickly, in addition to the directory, the service will give access to many other features, and if some remember the family minitel for the purchase of train tickets, many are those who remember the few games available from order 3615, not to mention the “pink” services like the unforgettable 3615 Ulla.

The Minitel revolution!

Gradually, the Minitel moved to many homes in France and saw its range of functions explode. It’s hard to forget, for example, the must-see 3615 Dorothée in the late ’80s, which allows you to interact with the hosts of the Club Dorothée show, but also participate in games, classify songs, or even directly influence drawing programming. animated. . It was crazy!

However, in addition to monopolizing the telephone line (and therefore cutting off access to the telephone), the use of Minitel incurred an additional cost to the bill. If the 3611 was free for the first three minutes (we all remember that our parents were investigating at full speed to disconnect before 180 seconds), this was not the case for 3615 type services, sometimes billed up to 2.30. francs per minute. Many have taken advantage of Minitel to find out about high school results, for example, or to enroll in college. A revolution we tell you!

3615 Batman, 3615 Asterix, 3615 TF1, 3615 Santa Claus, 3615 Hangman, 3615 3 Swiss, 3615 M6 … Everything was good to exploit the phone bills, not to mention the fact that every page was abominably long.

Like me, you may have participated in tests on your Minitel, which allowed, after a session of about twenty minutes (billed at more than 2 francs per minute, ie more than 40 francs per test ), to finally win this CD two titles that you coveted so much, is worth … 30 Francs. This was also the magic of the Minitel.

The end of Minitel and the rise of the Internet

At the beginning of 1986, France had just under 1.5 million Minitels, installed in companies, post offices and, of course, in homes. In 1993, there were more than 6.5 million Minitels in circulation in France, with more than 25,000 services available.

Obviously, a few years later, a certain Internet will change the situation and the principle of the Minitel will go out of style. However, in 2009, France Telecom still registered more than one million requests to 3611. It is not enough to prevent the group from permanently closing the service three years later (June 2012). a time when the figure was then estimated at about 600,000. of Minitels still in circulation in our country.

For some years now, the Minitel has been a true relic of the “world of yesteryear”, and while most owners have got rid of their embarrassing Minitel, today many are looking for models in good condition, so do not access the 3615 Ulla, but rather turn them into small arcade terminals. And to shine on the table this Sunday, we specify that the name “Minitel” is the abbreviation for “Interactive medium through the digitization of telephone information“.

And you, what model of Minitel did you have?

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