Broadband claims another: France Telecom putting the kibosh on Minitel

Darren Murph
D. Murph|07.25.11

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Broadband claims another: France Telecom putting the kibosh on Minitel
'Tis a sad, sad day for fans of all things retro. In a developed nation dominated by high-speed connections, near-ubiquitous 3G and sub-$€300 computers, it's more than a little astounding that the Minitel is just now being axed by France Télécom. Originally, the aforesaid machine was ordered by the French government in the 1970s "as part of an initiative to get people to share information and, eventually, reduce the consumption of paper." In a bid to rapidly increase adoption, the terminals -- complete with a monochrome screen and bantam keyboard -- were actually doled out to denizens free of charge, with access billed on a per-minute basis. It obviously required a phone line, and things were kept understandably simple; users rarely did more than shop for train tickets, check the occasional bank account and peruse the phone directory. Astonishingly, France's precursor to the internet still raked in €30 million in revenue last year, but the time has finally come to push existing users onto more sophisticated solutions. As of June 30, 2012, "the Minitel will die." 'Course, the service itself will be the only thing shuttered -- those memories are bound to last a lifetime.
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