The Minitel is a Technologie of communication Télématique developed by DGT (Ministry for the Stations and Télécommunications) and used in France, primarily in the years 1980 and 1990.
The network general public of Minitel could be seen as one of the precursory networks - Mutatis-mutandis - World Wide Web (the first world networks of Internet date from the end of the year sixty, but did not relate to the general public). As in the Web, indeed, a Minitel waiter could transfer a call on another service.
There are some time called of the Minitel the same thing as of the Concorde or ARIANE, namely: “Before even its exit, this project will be technically exceeded” . As in the two preceding cases, it of it was nothing.
The competitor on the other side of the Atlantic of the Minitel named indeed the system NAPLPS. Conceived like vector of Door-to-door selling, it stressed a posting colors of photographic quality.
The lines - especially on the other side of the Atlantic - being what they were at the time, disappointment was severe:
- the posting of certain pages could take one duration of six minutes;
- the mixing of text and graphs, which did not pose a problem with the semigraphic characters basic quality of the Minitel, was not possible without making assemble the cost of realization of the terminal to prohibitory values in RAM and ROMANIAN.
Only remained in string the Minitel, the Prestel, the Ceefax, the Bildschirmtext - all in Europe, all founded on the standard Vidéotex. The realization of the Minitel having been entrusted to three different industrialists (Matra, Radiotechnology (Philips) and Télic - Alcatel), the price of the series could be negotiated with low by taking account of a Learning curve of the subcontractors.
InvoicingThe Minitel was without subscription, but invoiced at the time of communication. The invoice was carried out some by accounting on the telephone bill. The waiter could be connected at home (n° of direct call) or of course one of the kiosks (3613, 3614,3615, etc).
ExperimentationThe experimental phase is carried out starting from 1980 through two operations on the ground:
The experiment Teletel 3V
With the autumn 1980, 2.500 voluntary hearths of Versailles, Vélizy-Villacoublay, Jouy-in-Josas, Buc, Beavers and Cabin-in-Josas receive a terminal videotex. Side of the services, nearly 200 suppliers take part in the experiment, thus giving the opportunity to test these new means of communication near the public. The services gaining broadest adhesion will be the press, the mail-order selling, the SNCF, the banks as well as the transport.
The first terminal does not have a screen, and slips under the television set. The remote control is basic: just an alphanumeric keyboard in capital letters. A user group impassioned founds the AATEL (Association of the Subscribers with Teletel), which becomes true a Interface between the testers and the DGT-DACT (Head office of the Telecommunication-Direction of the Commercial Businesses and Telematics) which directs the project. On their side, the companies create the AFTEL (French Association of the service providers telematics). The distant connections are established via the network TRANSPAC by the number of access 612 34 56.
The very first transport, only by letter-boxes, is baptized M3V. One can exchange private messages there, or via sets of themes groups of discussion. At the time, the DACT and the service providers think that it is only about a ludic Gadget: for them the future of telematics lies in information, and not the communication. It is even question of removing it, but the AATEL will fight to preserve it and show that it is a paramount motivation of the users. What will confirm briskly the development of telematics general public in France. It is only fine 1982 qu ' appears the first minitel. The experiment will be definitively closed in spring 1984.
The electronic directory
In 1981, 4.000 Minitels are distributed in Ille-et-Vilaine. It is a question of testing this new service charged to replace the directory paper. It was to also then reduce the traditional service of the information, passably saturated in front of the growth with the telephone market at the time of the Années 1970. It was also justified by an intelligence service recovering the whole of the subscribers of France and by a daily updating. This experiment being unrolled with Vélizy, the name of the city became a generic term in the jargon of the medium of the Télématique.
- 3611: in the past, 11 , the Phone book (paying since the 9/1/2007),
- the mail-order selling (of train tickets for example),
- and of course meeting places and Blue message services.
The French State, owner of postal and telecommunications authorities strongly encouraged the development of the Minitel. The postal and telecommunications authorities thus distributed the terminals free (of the more advanced terminals then were sold or rented). This decision was justified by the savings of manufacture, distribution and recycling of million of directories paper each year . Thus, the hearths equipped with Minitel received nothing any more but the Yellow pages, instead of the White pages and of the yellow pages.
The services telematicsThe Minitel program returned to more than 8 billion francs out of equipment terminals with one lifespan estimated 8 years for the Minitels. During the same amount of time, the sales turnovers of the services telematics reaches the 3,5 billion francs and the savings in paper reached 500 franc million per annum.
In 1985 one exceeded the million Minitels in service in France, as well as the million hours of communications of services per month. In 2000, the Minitel was used by nearly 25 million people (on 60 million inhabitants) with a park of almost 9 million terminals. It exceeded the number of users of the network CompuServe, which offered similar services on the other side of the Atlantic, and more still of Prodigy which resembled to him more because using the code Vidéotex.
The network of minitels comprised at the beginning three types of invoicing:
- 3613: communication paid by the service
- 3614: communication paid by the user (20 FF - 3,05 €/heure approximately), not of remuneration of the service.
- 3615: remuneration of the service: (60 FF - 9,15 €/heure approximately) paid by the user, including 40 FF (6,10 €) for the service and 20 FF (3,05 €) for France Telecom
These short numbers with 4 digits replaced the initial numbers, with the liking of the evolution of the plan of classification of the historical operator:
- 11 until October 18th, 1996 with 23:00, then 3611.
- (16) (3) 613 91 55, then 36 13 91 55 after October 25th, 1985 with 23:00, then 3613 since the July 10th 1986
- (16) (3) 614 91 66, then 36 14 91 66 after October 25th, 1985 with 23:00, then 3614 since the July 10th 1986
- (16) (3) 615 91 77, then 36 15 91 77 after October 25th, 1985 with 23:00, then 3615 since the July 10th 1986
The Minitel remains always very much used (2002), including for the commercial transactions, so much so that certain search engines like Yahoo! or AltaVista opened a Minitel service. But the services with invoicing of the type 3615 or superior are highly competed with by the Web.
The Web has the following advantages: much more ergonomic, faster, and especially the Web are supposed free being.
The Minitel has the following advantages: no the subscription, not of material to be bought, constant reliability, protected.
Minitel is a registered trade name, and thus is always written with a capital letter.
The waiters (n° of Tel.) to which one connected oneself with a Minitel were called Télétel services. They was indeed footbridges towards the network Télétel, based on TRANSPAC, which made it possible to connect the Minitels with the waiters of the service providers.
In margin of these Télétel services, it was completely possible to compose of the traditional numbers with 8 (then 10) digits, that is to connect itself to another “turned over” Minitel, or to reach waiters “STN” directly connected on the Phone network commutated, therefore not surtaxed. A community of impassioned (some will say “underground”) attended these similar Minitel waiters thus regularly (in more accessible) with the waiters BBS which developed in the United States (and in France). With the local scales, communities also proposed such Minitel waiters with direct accesses.
The Minitel is a Computer terminal passive, i.e. it is only of a keyboard and a screen, without processor nor device of storage. The services are accessible since a telephone line thanks to the built-in Modem (1200 bit/s in reception, 75 bit/s in emission). The Minitel was provided with taken in T for the telephone network connection of France Telecom.
The screen of the Minitel is a matrix text of a size of 40 columns in mode Vidéotex (8 nuances of gray) and is based on a system of encoding which is clean for him. That enables him to post images in text mode, with the manner of the ASCII Art.
Characteristic of the Minitel 1B
- Modem V.23 (1200 bit/s in reception - 75 bit/s in emission) “retournable”, integrated E71.
- Videotex Posting in 40 columns and 8 colors (alphamosaic) and teleprocessing mode 80 columns type VT100.
- “Hot keys” to reach advanced modes.
- Transmission by way series enters a microphone and the Minitel up to 4800 bits/s (9600 bit/s out of Minitel 2).
AnecdotesThe first models were delivered with an alphabetical keyboard (ABCDEF) diverting for accustomed keyboards standardized of the typewriters or computer terminals in AZERTY or QWERTY, without really arranging the nonfamiliar ones of the keyboards. They were quickly abandoned with the profit of standard AZERTY.
The first models did not make it possible to keep with the screen the memory of the last consulted page when one disconnected oneself from the service consulted on line. Two solutions were opposed: to pay to keep this page with the screen, or to place a case of memory enters the line and the Minitel. These two solutions being expensive, the solution came from crafty persons having found that it was enough to disconnect the telephone socket without supporting on Fin Connection .
With the center even of the team of creation of the first Minitel, the majority was favorable to the technique of the dumb terminal, finally adopted. Others defended the idea to equip the Minitel with a processor with a bus, opening the possibility of expander cards and an operating system. The partisans of this option, retrospectively astute, did not obtain win, mainly for reasons of cost price.
However, it was exposed during a few weeks to Fnac, store Parisian of sale of electronic material, a curious hybrid which integrated one of the first microcomputers, the Sinclair ZX81, in a Minitel. Thus was carried out the marriage of the keyboard screen modem without processor (the Minitel) with the microcomputer without screen (Sinclair). To find at that time a microcomputer communicating, it is necessary to turn to SMT Goupil G1, equipped with an acoustic modem.
On the first models of Minitel 10 (equipped with a telephone), the key making it possible to compose without taking down was not an ordinary key, but exerted a pressure on the contact of detection of compound through a rod provided with a spring (what gave him one touched very particular).
The basic minitel did not comprise a numbering-machine (it was necessary to number on the telephone and to support on " Connection/fin"). Nevertheless as it was also provided with a catch micro-computers and microprocessors (a simple connection series), certain programmers were able to make it number by sending series to take down/hang up again simulating classification by impulse. It was the procedure takatakata .
MinitelsThe features of the Minitels were described in reference books entitled “STUM” (Technical specifications of Use of the Minitel), which were declined by model (STUM 1, STUM 1B, STUM 10 etc). They were available initalement near the Hundred then of France Telecom.
In spite of detailed standards, there were light differences between models, and especially between manufacturers. It was possible “to question the minitel” to recover the exact model and, possibly, to adapt the service.
Minitel 1 standard : Function out of standard ASCII which allows the dialog with international data banks. Posting is in 8 nuances of gray (black and white including).
- Minitel 1 color : The 8 nuances of gray are converted into colors:
- Minitel 1 dialogs : Allows the holder of this terminal to exchange by Minitel of the texts on line with a correspondent using a minitel of any model.
- Minitel 1B : Its keyboard is equipped with new keys, of which Fnct and Ctrl. It allows a posting in 80 columns. Certain functions of posting make their appearance like “inserting line”, “to remove line”. The " B" mean Bistandard because it also could " retourner" its modem in order to emit with 1200 bit/s and to receive with 75 bit/s, thus allowing to connect itself to other Minitels.
- Minitel 2 : Allows the user to protect, by a password, the access to its terminal. Minitel 2 has moreover a function repertory. (possibility of preregistering up to 10 numbers.) It allows also a more advanced graphic posting while making it possible to redefine the characters (DRCS, Dynamical Redefinable Character Set, in French JCDR, Character set Definable Re). This function is used little because it is slow and that the park of minitel-2 forever be rather wide.
- Minitel 10 : Cumulate the functions of the Minitel and a sophisticated telephone. There exists also a version bistandard (10b) .
- Minitel 12 : Telematic responder able to take a communication, to post a banner page and to record the written message left by the correspondent.
- Minitel 5 : Portable minitel with liquid crystals which has the same functions as minitel 10 bistandard, headset telephone in less.
- Minitel " Photo" or Magis Club : Minitel which can post images with the format JPEG in 64 levels of gray. Its modem can be connected to 9600 bit/s. This mode is often called TVR, for Télétel Fast Speed. Some services (of memory: " 3623 AFP-Photo") were specifically created for this version of Minitel, which can also manage the DRCS and the bistandard mode, and includes even a card reader to chip.
I-minitelI-minitel is a navigator for PC which makes it possible the user to reach Minitel services on the Internet with a low connection flow or high banc, but the service is not available abroad out of the Metropolitan France nor, because it is necessary to have a France Telecom fixed line.
Quotation around the Minitel“It is said to us that the whole world envies us the Minitel. I do not know if he envies it to us, Sirs, but I can in any case tell you a thing with certainty, it is that he does not buy it to us” Bruno Lussato, professor with ENSAM (Arts and Trades), 1988.
Passage with Internet of the users
The users accustomed to the Minitel can have difficulties in pass to Internet.
Advantages of Internet
- # Images
- # open System Ergonomic
- # (typographical police forces, personalization of the navigator)
- # not on-surfacturé ( simple payment )
- # Much more information available
- # No monopoly of a single operator
Inconvénients of Internet
- # Plus great flow of information, which implies either line with high banc, or slowness.
- # No standardized structure, nor of official directory (although with the yellow pages or 411 on line and the search engines (Google for example) one does not need any hardly).
- # Requires to have a computer (or a communicating game console connected on television), and to wait until it started. However, of the light terminals exist, the Webphones , which are operational as of their powering, exactly like a Minitel. Unfortunately, they are generally not able to make function the new services known as “Web 2.0”.
- # Misses possible safety: the Minitel passes by a “protected” network which is TRANSPAC, whereas Internet does not have a preset way can pass by certain possibly malevolent sites.
In any event, the experts agree to say that with the exit and the deployment of the Minitel, France had many years in advance as regards electronic exchanges, but that has, alas, slowed down considerably the development of Internet in France which, thereafter, showed years of delay then
Footbridges Minitel/Internet nevertheless were designed and installation as of the beginning of the year 1990. These footbridges used the mode 80 columns of the minitel and made it possible the user to have the services USENET (e-mail and newsgroup). The most famous services of this type were the 3614 Teaser carried out by Jean-Claude Michot and Jean-Rene Vidaud (France-Teaser) as well as the 3615 Internet of Valentine Lacambre (Altern).
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