of Minitel in France
The French Teletel videotex network (technical system called Antiope)
is arguably the greatest videotex success story of the 1980s. It was
created in 1980 by France Telecom, the French government's telephone
company, and it still operates in the late 1990s.
From the start, the service was innovative. It
replaced telephone books, containing every telephone listing in France,
and it featured train, plane, bus and subway schedules as well as volumes
of news and information.
To use it, viewers needed a dedicated Minitel
terminal, which initially was given free to telephone subscribers. The
early terminals featured a 1,200 bps receive and 75 bps send modem, a
fold-up keyboard and either a 9-inch black-and-white screen or a 12-inch
color screen. The system later was adapted to use either the terminals or
a computer for access.
The system essentially was financed by its
electronic telephone book,
and revenues from the system were used to rebuild France's aging phone
system. France Telecom used the money it would have spent to publish and
deliver conventional phone books to finance much of the construction.
Then, revenues generated by telephone usage were used to help finance the
Now, more than 20 million users can access more
than 25,000 services on Teletel/Minitel. The service even is available in
the United States, but most of the information on it is in the French
language. These users have 6.5 million Minitel terminals and 600,000
microcomputers with the appropriate software.
According to France Telecom:
France provides a wealth and diversity of services unrivaled
elsewhere. It meets the needs of all users, residential and business
alike. The language used for most of these services is French."
of hours: 110 million
of calls: 1.913 billion
French white pages, number of calls: 784 million
turnover: 6.6 billion French Francs (Tax excl.)
to service providers: 3.1 billion French Francs (Tax excl.)
of online services: Cars, Motorbikes, Consumer information:
advice, shopping, Culture, Lifestyle, Society, Media, Current affairs,
Employment, Europe, Finance, Stockmarket Games, Astrology, Chat,
Health, Leisure, Property, SportTax, Legislation, Telecommunications,
Tourist information, Training, Transport
back to the Online Timeline