Minitel moi non plus

I grow up in a time when computer were still rare and connected computers didn’t exist for the general public.

In the 80’s, a first generation of affordable computers arrived on the market behind the rockstar Apple II. There was Sinclair’s ZX series, Commodore, Amstrad, Thomson TO7, etc. I didn’t have any of these, but I was lucky enough to get a Texas Instruments TI99/4A.

It was not the best machine around but plugged on the TV and a tape recorder, it was perfect to learn basic programming. I remember building games like a complete Yahtzee. But that was pretty it for my programming career.

Later my father bought a PC, I became more skilled in computer at a time most workers still didn’t use them.

Came baccalaureat.
To get the results of my exams, my mother took a Minitel. This was before internet but with this little machine I was to access the results of the bac but also to newspaper, games, train tickets, etc.

it was a revelation, I discovered a world, being able to access what seemed to be an infinity of informations. I saw the future.

A neighbour offered me an internship at Marie-Claire who was publishing a few Minitel services. I was happy to discover and agreed to work for free. After a few weeks, I could start my first career as what we would call later webmaster, but the word didn’t existed and Minitel was not a web but a very centralised world.


The business model

That was the nice aspect. The device was offered for free to every user (more than 15 millions), only the communications were charged and France Telecom was paying back the publisher in a similar way as Apple does with the App Store today. There was different tarifs but the most used was around 1 French Franc per minute.

Most of the time, we were publishing promotional operations, contests, games. 90% of the connections were during the week days. Of course people loved to play with it from work.

I don’t have copies of the screen shots and I did not find much online  but if you have anything, I’d be happy to see.