Techno Christmas, never without my Minitel

Published on:

Every nerd on the planet had been asking Santa for resolutely futuristic high-tech toys anyway. But some of them were surprised to discover at the foot of their virtual tree, a Minitel from the 1980s, able to connect via wifi to the Internet thanks to the addition of a small box. But what can this ancestor of the web be used for? Nothing at all, or almost.

The throne in every home in France from the 1980s to the 2000s, Minitel in France was one of the few consumer entities offering a multitude of online services. Weather, sports scores, bank accounts or discussion forums, including dating services and more if you like… The advent of the Internet and personal computers has ended up completely obsolete.

The flagship of French technology is now reborn from its ashes with the initiative of the start-up Multiplié, which developed the MiniMit. This little box allows you to connect via wifi an old Minitel from an attic or a flea market. And there, miracle! The Télétel 3615 screen appears to consult “telematics” services dates from the 1980s. They are about fifteen in number at the moment, because the digital archives of the time have almost disappeared, clarifies Olivier Mével, the founder of the publisher of technological objects Multiplié.

From 3615 Ulla to 3615 Eliza

The large vintage Minitel is put into a small Minitel that I have invented, which is called MiniMit. This little box that connects to the internet via wifi takes control of the original Minitel to simulate some of the online services that you could consult in the 1980s, for example the library or a dating service like 3615 Ulla, renamed the apartment 3615 Eliza, but also press articles from the newspaper Le Monde dealing with 40-year-old news year », explains Olivier Mével. ” What is surprising is the richness and diversity of these telematics services, which were imagined long before the Internet. If Internet technologies have obviously advanced considerably, conceptually, ultimately, not much has been invented since that time. “, he continues.

Then adds: On the other hand, the only solution to be able to reproduce a certain number of these online services identically was to meet two women who were pioneers of Minitel. Cécile Adam and Pascale Moise have reconstructed, either from memory or by looking at old magazines or old videos, the screens and content of the Minitel services and for the good reason that the digital archives from this period practically no longer exist. Currently, a crowdfunding campaign on the Ulule platform is underway to mass-produce the MiniMit and to reconstruct many other services offered by Minitel from 1982. In addition, if you pre-order your box quickly, you will receive a phone card, that reminds us of how in the 1980s people used to call the street stalls that have totally disappeared with the advent of smartphones. »

Preservation of wealth

That Minitel performance which is connected to the Internet via its little box is frankly limited. And this connection does not allow you to consult social networks, websites or open recent applications like on our mobiles. The goal of the start-up Multiplié is to save a French digital heritage that is unique in the world, but which has stalled. And Internet users are nostalgic for the 1980s, to treat themselves to a journey through time, which will be displayed in the same graphical universe, but very slowly, with the loading speed of the Minitel of yesteryear.

You have questions or suggestions that you can write to new.technologies@rfi.fr

.

Leave a Comment