Goodbye Minitel

Sorry for not posting lately, I’ve been surprisingly busy. I’m off to Paris for the long Thanksgiving weekend – and just remembered an old post I had started on France’s Minitel. I’ll include it here. If anyone has any suggestions of interesting interactive work I should check out while in Paris, drop me a note. Happy Thanksgiving

On my first trip to Paris, in the late 80’s, I arrived, from London via the cross-channel hovercraft, at the Gare du Nore train station, where I found a room to stay from a b&b office. It was a crazy mix of familiar yet foreign. My host, whose name I can’t remember, was so sweet and, considering what a fool I probably was, helpful. At one point, to look up an address for me, she pulled out a strange looking computery-looking device and, after a bit of clicking and typing, got the location and the hours. It was only years later that I realized that it was a Minitel terminal — the infamous Videotex system launched in France in 1982.

The system was shut down earlier this year. But there’s plenty of interesting articles online including this from the BBC. And here are a handful of images and videos of the system.

Sample pics from Flickr users Margnac and Yukali

Some videotext works by Eduardo Kac:

Videotex poem “Tesão” by Eduardo Kac

Promotional videos:

Is this NSFW?

A documentary from 1990:

And this video has more examples, too.