After 30 years of service the Minitel will be history as of this evening. I saw my first terminal when I first came to France over 20 years ago and I was impressed. I was even more so after I read Howard Rheingold's book, The Virtual Community, where he devoted an entire chapter to the Telematique and Messageries Roses.
And to think it all began in 1982 with this device and one service: an on-line telephone/address directory.
As of right now there are still 800.000 devices out there in homes and offices throughout France. The good news is that they can be recycled - just take them down to an Orange store. Their destiny, however, made me a bit sad, "90% du matériel sont réutilisés, notamment le plastique en pare-choc de voiture." (90% of the materials will be reused, in particular the plastic for car bumpers).
I was given a minitel by France Telecom when ordering my telephone and the estate agent who had sold me my house warned me not to let anyone else near it for fear of running up bills on the minitel rose services...
One explanation for what rural France did behind the shutters..
Unfortunately, my family never owned one. But if they did, instead of recycling it, I would store in, and who knows, it might be worth quite a bit on ebay in 15 years or so :-)
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