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The Minitel - truly the first "public" Internet - is gone

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The French have pulled the plug on the Minitel, their early experiment (launched in 1982) in creating a public Internet for shopping and other services.
France pulls the plug on the Minitel this weekend, a home-grown precursor of the Internet which brought on-line banking, travel reservations and even sex chats to millions a decade before the World Wide Web.

In a country where resistance to all things “Anglo-Saxon” runs deep, the Minitel evokes both pride at French technological prowess and regret that the country failed to capitalize on the commercial online network, launched in 1982.

By its peak in the late 1990s, some 25 million people in France were using Minitel’s 26,000 services, ranging from checking the weather to buying clothes and booking train tickets.
I remember ads in the Paris Metro would have four digit numbers placed in the corner, that was their Minitel address. Just 4 digits. Made it relatively easy to remember. Rather cool for 1982.

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