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Whether from home, work, or at a public terminal on the street, by the end of the 1980s, every adult living in France had access to the network.
Sans y Penser: During the 1980s, Minitel terminals proliferated throughout France, where they became just another part of ordinary life.
People used them regularly without thinking much about it, in their homes, at work, or in various public places.
Prompted by the growth of Minitel’s user population, entrepreneurs jumped at the opportunity to create new services.
It was a hybrid system—a public platform for private innovation. To initiate a connection, a user manually dialed a local gateway using a telephone handset.
The call, carried over the public switched telephone network, was answered by software running on the switch—typically a CIT-Alcatel E-10—which played an audible carrier signal back over the line.
Fewer than 7 million telephone lines served 47 million French citizens, and the country’s elite felt that the domination of U. firms in telephone equipment, computers, databases, and information networks threatened their national sovereignty. In an influential 1978 report to President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, titled .
They outlined a plan for digitizing the telephone network, adding a layer of interactive teletext video technology, and providing entrepreneurs with an open platform for innovation.
In truth, Minitel was never fully controlled by the state.
To the extent that it’s remembered today, Minitel is portrayed as a closed, centralized system encumbered by government bureaucracy that failed to change with the times.
But back in 1983 it was like nothing anyone had seen before, eventually growing to have more than 20,000 online services before the World Wide Web even got off the ground.
Small service providers could thus design lean information systems that generated profit without having also to manage customer relationships, take credit cards, or chase down past-due bills.
Indeed, the app-store model employed by Apple, Steam, and others now is little more than a privatized version of the Minitel Kiosk.
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Later, the government began to require that people use Minitel for certain administrative tasks such as university registration.