Minitel Computer: “The French internet”

MAE 87/9, 1987,…

The Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines, and is considered one of the world’s most successful pre-World Wide Web online services.

The service was rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany and throughout France in 1982 by the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones; divided since 1991 between France Télécom and La Poste). From its early days, users could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a similar way to that now made possible by the Internet.

In February 2009, France Telecom indicated the Minitel network still had 10 million monthly connections. France Telecom retired the service on 30 June 2012.


From the Interactive Media & Games Seminar Series; Julien Mailland, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University’s Media School and a Research Scholar with the Computer History Museum’s Internet History Program focuses on the technical architecture of Minitel and the policy decisions that enabled a boom of private services atop the platform, leading to an ecosystem of over 25,000 private sites before the World Wide Web was invented and the Internet privatized.


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