Did you come across the term Minitel in regards to the history of the Internet, then continue reading to find out what Minitel is.
Internet has recently become unavoidable because it makes lives easy, fast and simple. It has been helping people perform all the normal operations remotely, to get information and knowledge, get figures and facts, and socially interact with one another.
Internet has scaled economic growth in many jurisdictions. There are currently many uses of internet that we are all aware of.
However, if you have been keenly observing the world for over three decades, you must have heard of something known as Minitel.
To make things easier for you, we want to explain the differences and give every detail between the Internet and Minitel.
Minitel was the most successful videotext online service before the World Wide Web. However, not many of us know about this, which is why we want to comb you on the same.
What is Minitel?
Minitel was developed in 1970s in France and launched in 1980s in Brittany, France. It was by then the most interactive network that consisted of thousands and millions of residential and business customers.
It was responsible for transmitting and receiving information through the Telephone system.
This service started at a point when the world was slowly looking for better, easier, most effective and simpler ways of keeping people connected, easing the operations of the business and also ways of gathering information with ease.
In the early 1990s when the Americans and the entire world didn’t know what the Internet was, the French were online enjoying the convenience that was later brought by the internet.
The French were online buying and selling services, chatting and gaming. This was all because of a little box called the Minitel.
Minitel hit the market almost 11 years before the Internet came into existence. The box consisted of a screen, the modem and a keyboard.
However, the Minitel didn’t support the microprocessors. Another important thing is that it used to connect to remote services through an uplink network.
A good example of how this worked is the modern Google Chromebook.
Moving on, the Minitel didn’t compute on its own. Their terminals were given to French telephone service subscribers whether a resident or a Business for Free.
This was a great achievement because it was practical when everybody was using the Telephone company services.
In the early 1980s, Minitel was very easy to use, it was reliable and very secure for every business or individual to use.
It was said to be a centralized and a closed system. This means that all the services were accessed through the Telephone lines. It was by then considered the most successful online service.
Why was Minitel invented?
Minitel was invented with the ultimate goal of promoting the France Telecom, new Telephone services.
It also aimed at reducing the cost of getting information in the company and the cost of telephone books that were made out of paper.
Many people who have heard of the Minitel think that it’s the same as World Wide Web or Internet.
But there’s a huge difference between these two. It also means that the two of them have a rivalry that is very diverse than we think.
What is the Internet?
The Internet was previously known as the ARPANET and was brought to the limelight in 1983, but it became accessible to the public when the World Wide Web (WWW) was introduced almost a decade later.
The main reason why Internet was launched was to provide communication between individuals and businesses when the direct communication was down or not responding.
It worked to provide the most straightforward alternative to the issues that people were encountering at the moment.
Today, the Internet is known as the wider network that allows all the electronic devices to communicate around the world.
It can enhance communication between individuals and businesses. It can be accessed through many electronic devices that allow digital information to travel through them such as the Data Centres, Routers, repeaters, Computers, smartphones, and some smart watches among many other smart devices.
For the internet to work, it uses a packer router network through different protocols such as the Transport Control Protocols (TCP) and Internet Protocols (IP).
The data that is sent through the internet from one device to the other is known as Message and it can be split into fragments known as the packets.
The packets are sent through the routers and transferred from one router to the other. This is definitely how the message passes from one device to the other.
The main aims of the internet were to promote economic development, enhance information sharing, provide powerful and useful data and enhance social life.
The two protocols discussed above, TCP and IP are the languages used by the computer to communicate to each other.
Minitel: The rise and fall of the France-wide web
Minitel service brought the breakthrough of the porn industry, the travel reservations and online banking to millions of people in the country.
It was the most trusted, effective and the easiest method to get everything you needed in the internet. So what happened to the France-wide web service?
Before the birth of WWW, there was this service that was widely trusted for services such as booking the travel tickets, watching videos and doing online transactions with ease.
Most other countries looked at this invention with amusement and awe and the French were very proud.
Then the president Jacques Chirac boasted saying ‘Today, a baker in Aubervilliers perfectly knows how to check the bank accounts on the Minitel. Can the same be said of the baker in New York?’
Chirac was releasing his press statement in 1997 half through the lifecycle of the service.
Back then Chirac can be forgiven to think that this was a giant project that can handle the dynamics of technology well.
The service had about nine million installed users around the country and about another 25 million users and 26,000 services offered.
In 1997, the internet was already moving in and every baker in the world today can check his or her bank account.
About 30 years after the service was launched, it’s blowing out and the little beige box is no more.
To make the service work for every citizen in France, the government subsidized the services. As a matter of fact, the Minitel services were offered to the Telephone subscribers for Free.
Another thing that made the service grow widely was the fact that there was a variety of service being offered by the service to the business model. Most of these services were free to the Telephone subscribers.
There was a commercial interest from the start for this service. The newspaper industry that was already established would gather some more ad revenue.
This technology would unfortunately lower the interest in Newspapers because most people could access most of what they wanted online with ease and for free.
The France Government Intervened to save the press and made rules that said that only the institutions and companies entitled to provide the service were registered newspapers.
Most of the services were provided by the French government leaving the company to collect and pass their monthly fees.
In early 1980s, Mintel was being developed in France because the country was lagging behind in technology.
The French government introduced Minitel to counter the technology and provide a very powerful means of accessing the internet.
But then, at the same time another network known as the Internet was being developed in the rest of the world. After the Internet was completely stable, they were both competing.
Internet was global while Minitel was only for the France Markets. Although Minitel was the widely used Network in France, more people and businesses were already asking for Internet services because they were more reliable and had a fair performance.
Minitel vs. Internet: Similarities
The Internet and the Minitel services were both launched to help individuals and businesses communicate easily and get all the information they need without undergoing a vigorous process.
This means that these two services have some similarities and differences.
However, let’s start with Minitel vs. Internet similarities;
Ease of Use
The developers of these two services knew that people needed an easy to use channel to get information, communicate and establish their social lives and business.
For that reason, the Internet and the Minitel are very easy to use. You can easily access anything you need from Minitel and Internet without any hassle. But some people claim that the Internet is better for usability.
Internet and Minitel offer one of the best services out there. They all understand that there are a variety of services that people need.
They both offer different services such as Uploads, browsing, Online Banking, Posting and Blogging and many others.
Effective Billing Methods
Although Minitel is mainly focused on the French market, there are some easy billing methods for the two of them.
This comes into play when these two services are needed for business. Generally accessing the internet is for Free. Minitel was also provided for Free by the French Government to its citizens.
Minitel vs. Internet: The Differences
The fact is that the world didn’t start with the internet and WWW. It all started with the Minitel and several similar services that didn’t make it to the current market.
Besides the fact that these two services have some similarities, there’s a great deal of differences.
The Minitel is nowhere near the Internet. To better understand the differences between these two services, we have compiled a list of the differences between Minitel and Internet.
The Data type
Unlike Minitel, the Internet has the data from around the world. Minitel only focuses on local French Data.
This is one of the biggest Internet and Minitel notable differences. Checking on the internet today, you can get data about almost everything in the world.
As opposed to this, Minitel will only give searchers Data about French and its markets.
Minitel doesn’t support many browsing options out there. It also doesn’t support engines for precise research.
This is a downside and a main reason why the service didn’t make it out there. As opposed to Minitel, the Internet supports all search engines and all browsers.
The Minitel is probably limited to some extent. It has some of the limitations that the internet is not prone to.
The Internet is colourful with some images, colors and texts which is not the same case with the Minitel that is limited to texts only.
Although internet is currently the only service, Minitel was safer than the internet. This is mainly because it used direct Telephone lines.
This was an indication that the service couldn’t be easily hacked and altered.
The Internet is cheaper than the Minitel. Although this service was provided for free to French people, it proved to be more expensive to Internet.
To access the internet for basic uses, you only need the data, and the gadget. For the Minitel, you should be a Telephone subscriber to access the service.
The Internet service is currently available world wide. The Minitel service was only limited to France. This means that the Internet can be used by businesses and individuals from any part of the world.
The Minitel was regarded as an out-dated service because they didn’t upgrade more often. Internet upgrades with time which makes it one of the most dynamic services we can get out there.
It is also an advantage because the Internet adopts new and updates technologies for reliability and functionality.
Speed and reliability
The Internet provides a faster option to mails and services as opposed to Minitel. This is another great causative reason why the service failed to make it in this fast moving techno world.
Minitel was criticised for the speeds and the reliability especially when it comes to Businesses and other types of serious uses.
Minitel and Internet don’t have the same advancement levels. The internet is more advanced than the Minitel.
It is a very dynamic options that changes with time to provide exactly what the current market needs in real time. As opposed, the Minitel was a slowed service that didn’t adapt to changes that fast.
These two services don’t provide the same searching levels. The Internet provides advanced searching which is not the same case with Minitel.
If you wanted to gather information about anything in the world, you can easily get this through the Internet and not Minitel.
Minitel doesn’t support video calls and Video conferencing
At a time when the Coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to work from home and operate remotely, you might be wondering how the Minitel would be prepared to tackle this if they didn’t support video calls and Video conferencing. Most Video calls and Video Conferencing is supported through the internet.
With the advancement in technology and Internet services, people can get real time information and news as they occur. This is not the same case with Minitel. Minitel fails to provide the urgency that is needed in news broadcasting. Most information on Minitel is not up to date.
It cannot support many online services
The world is bleeding very lazy individuals that want to tackle everything without draining their energy.
Almost everyone wants to shop at the comfort of their house. This is only possible through the internet and not Minitel.
Although Minitel was in the track to introduce such services, it was rated very hectic to shop with Minitel services.
Online Banking was introduced during the Minitel era but it faced a couple of challenges such as the security which the internet came to solve.
However, these two services were perfect for Online banking and several other banking service.
Web services bring a very easy entertainment service which all people around the world love. Although people can chat with both the internet and Minitel, Minitel has very limited resources.
Internet has everything people need including music, videos, Movies and series that can keep everyone entertained.
Another important thing to note is the fact that most of the resources found on Minitel were French Content that may not appeal to everybody in the world.
The Minitel is at the brink of extinction while the internet proves that it’s very likely to stay for a long time.
Minitel has been at the brick of extinction because more people and businesses only adopt services that are effective, cheap and secure especially when it comes to accessing the internet.
Hundreds of Thousands of Users to be disconnected from Minitel
Over the time, Minitel has had a declining user base. However, there are chances that the remaining users were disconnected after the year ended.
This Telecom Company in France reported that in 2010, the service brought about $37 million in revenue which was a drop from $1 billion in mid 1990s.
There was a user base of about 600,000 that was still around. Many users were in the North-western region of Brittany.
Many people claim that the Minitel service lacked vision and commercial viability which is the reason why the service is facing a stiff competition from the Internet.
The company was a former monopoly that currently doesn’t have any use in the market. The service was notoriously slow when it was launched.
With time, there were some common improvements. However, with the downfall of the company, we expect that many users will be disconnected.
Is there fear of return to Minitel Model?
Minitel is still used by the French but mainly the elderly, who don’t have access to the internet. This was according to the Jeremie Zimmerman, who was the head of the French Digital rights Group.
He continued that Minitel was only innovative for about 20 minutes and died immediately because of the lack of focus. But is there fear of the return to Minitel Model?
Probably not because the internet is highly innovative and very dynamic. With that said, Internet will be an industrial leader for a very long time.
But there are some people claiming that the legislative efforts to restrict the internet can be a strategy to get the Minitel back to the books. But that is probably going to take some time because many people are already used to the services.
Does Minitel Still exist?
This was decommissioned in 2012 after being operational for 30 years. However, the terminals still functioned but they couldn’t hold the advances in the graphics industry.
Their modems were also outdates and the French had long moved to the Internet.
Did the French Invent the Internet?
French led the world into the 21st Century. However, the French didn’t invent the internet but they scaled the growth of the internet.
What happened to Minitel?
Minitel has been slowly dying and was decommissioned many years ago. It has been decommissioned and the French since moved to the internet.
What is le Minitel?
This was a videotext online service accessible through the Telephone lines and it was the world’s most successful online service before the WWW. It was invented in Cesson-sevigne in France. However, the service is currently not in work.
With this information, it’s easier to realize that Minitel is a very popular service in France but the rest of the world is not a fun of the service.
In this battle, the Internet is automatically the victor and it’s permanently threatening the Minitel existence.
Besides the fact that Minitel was only launched to help the France markets, its local availability is a main factor why the service is not likely to make it in the world market.
Minitel is still behind in terms of technology and usability. It is actually the best time for french businesses and individuals to consider Internet as an alternative.