Our Friend the Computer

Minitel (Pre-Internet Networks)

March 01, 2022 Our Friend the Computer Season 1 Episode 3
Our Friend the Computer
Minitel (Pre-Internet Networks)
Show Notes Transcript

After some hobby chat, Camila tells Ana about the French videotex network ‘Minitel’. Launched in the early 80s, it was the most successful version of an online service before the World Wide Web. While other similar networks struggled, this episode looks at how the specifics of Minitel allowed it to become integrated into everyday life and what happened when France began adopting the Internet.

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Main research for the episode was done by Camila. Ana with the audio editing.
Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)

- Amougou, Jules, and James S. Larson. “Comparing Implementation of Internet Diffusion in the United States and France: Policies, Beliefs, and Institutions.” Policy Research 25, no. 6 (2008): 563-578.
- Arceneaux, Noah. Review of Minitel: Welcome to the Internet, by Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll. Journalism History 44, no. 1 (Spring 2018).
- Benghozi, Pierre-Jean, and Christian Licoppe. “Technological National Learning: From Minitel to Internet.” In The Global Internet Economy, edited by Bruce Kogut, 153-189. MIT Press, 2003.
- Cats-Baril, William L., and Tawfik Jelassi. “The French Videotex System Minitel: A Successful Implementation of a National Information Technology Infrastructure.” MIS Quarterly 18, no.1 (March 1994): 1-20.
- Chrisafis, Angelique. “France says farewell to the Minitel – the little box that connected a country.” The Guardian, June 29, 2012.
- Kessler, Jack. “Electronic Networks: A View from Europe.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science (April/May 1994): 26-27.
- Mailland, Julien. “Minitel, the Open Network Before the Internet.” The Atlantic, June 16, 2017.
- Mailland, Julien, and Kevin Driscoll. “Minitel: The Online World France Built Before the Web.”  IEEE Spectrum, June 20, 2017. https://spectrum.ieee.org/minitel-the-online-world-france-built-before-the-web
- Schofield, Hugh. “Minitel: The rise and fall of the France-wide web.” BBC News, June 28, 2012.

Hello. Welcome to our friendly computer. I am Camila Galaz. I am a research based visual artist, writer and experimental filmmaker. Oh, I'm Ana Meisel. I'm a web developer, and I work in online education, and I do net art stuff. Commissioned Carmila a long time ago to do a project on Cybersyn. And now here we are, three episodes in. Three episodes in I know. How are you this weekend? Yeah, I'm good. And I feel like I've done a billion things, but I can't even recall. I have been taking up a bunch of hobbies this year, so I was working on my ceramics to of my friends that I, we do ceramics every week and we just make some like parts and things that we need around the house and like glaze together. So it's been really cute and I'm slowly getting the hang of it, but it's really difficult like throwing on the wheel. I know everyone says this, the throwing on the wheel is really annoying. Well, I feel like it only works if you have the assistance of a ghost. What do you mean, a ghost My joke didn't land. No, I'm talking about, um What's that? What's that Patrick Swayze movie? Oh, yeah, it's really good. It's called Ghost. I don't know. I don't know if at the point where he's helping her with throwing the clay, I don't know if he is a ghost in that same, though, I don't think she ever finished her pot that she was making did she. Well, there you go. Yes, he was. He was just distracting her. Yeah. The ghost. Distracting. What about you? How's New York? Oh, it's okay. There's. We had, like, a bomb cyclone last week, and yes, that's happening or, you know, and the snow. So there's bits of snow around, but we're not engulfed. And now it's just rainy. It's just super rainy. So. Yeah. And, you know, just working on my projects, being my hobby is pool. I picked that up a little, so I just had my six month pull of a sari, so I thank you. I got a glove. Yeah. I can't show it to you. I don't have it with me anymore. But, I mean, it's like in my pool case. But it's very smart. It's got, like, it just goes over your thumb and then your, like, two fingers and it. How big is it? Like our finger. Like the two. Yeah. That's like it doesn't have any tips of the fingers but it helps with like smoothness when you're shooting. Yeah. You can't get carpet burn when you're doing that. Yeah. And it has like a special a little like suede on the sides for like grip I guess on the table. So, you know, when you're sweating I mean, I do sweat a lot when I play pool, mostly I really like. Yes, Yeah. But I'm just like a sweaty person, I think. Okay, it's good. I just, like, do drills and play occasional games, but I mostly. Yeah, just like, do hours of failing drills. Like practice sessions. Yeah. Yeah, I practice. I got a real game and I've been, like, adjusting my stance, which is taking a long time. And it's the second. Yes, like the second time I've had to do that. It's like I learned it when I started playing pool. I hadn't really played it before, so I, like, learned how to stand and aim and things. And then I had like another teacher that was like re showing me how to do that. And I learned a few things from that. And now I'm like trying to perfect it so I can shoot. I want to I just want to be able to shoot like perfectly straight. That's my goal. I don't even want to, like, win games. I just want to be able to shoot really, really straight. I want to watch a game. I want to come to New York and watch a game. Oh, my God. Come to New York and watch a game. Yeah. Yeah. Congrats on your six months. Thank you. Thanks. But yeah, I'm really excited about this week. This was a topic that I got like very into and we're looking at the French video text network called Mini Tell. And I got so intimate that I started collecting lapel pins with this whole lapel pins. I have one on now. It's just like the little terminal with, with the like site address. It's like an advertisement. But really. Yeah, I didn't know that they were like actual vintage objects. Like, I thought they were just kind of like someone on Etsy was like, really got into Mattel and was just making their own little designs. These are vintage objects, vintage objects from the eighties used for advertising, like when people were marketing stuff on their clothes back in the day. Yes, I'm now like a minotaur fanatic, so get ready for all the information I have learned. So I'm ready. So in the eighties and nineties, in France, a decade before the Internet was being used in the U.S., people were participating in chat rooms, checking the news, doing their banking and making purchases on a network called Mini Tell. It was a video text service that used telephone lines and a small beige terminal box, a precursor to the Internet. It was the most successful version of an online service before the World Wide Web. While many countries had versions of a teletext or video text network, the Frenchman is now outgrew them all to become the most successful video text network ever, while other similar networks struggled, the specifics of the French network meant that it became integrated into everyday life and even caused France to resist the eventual adoption of the Internet. So that's my intro. Yeah, we are like a techno phobic or a Luddite attitude at the time that made people not want to adopt the internet maybe, and they kind of like stuck to minute till with more of like an emotional force of like resistance because they didn't want to adopt this like new technocratic thing that was the Internet from like the U.S. because, I mean, like France is, you know, they're like kind of known for their strikes. And they just came out of the, I think, 1968 strike, which was like the largest ever general strike. And, you know, workers demanded better pay and conditions. And I wonder if there was this Luddite attitude because Luddites were essentially striking against automation and machine implementation as like as part of like a workers union. I don't know, maybe that's like a bigger question we can expand on later. But yeah, I wonder what the attitude was. Yeah, I mean, in terms of do you mean in terms of like resisting the, the internet when it came. Yeah. I think that it was more that that minute hell was working so well for them that when the internet first was being introduced it wasn't really offering anything, anything new. And so there was like a practicality thing. Yeah. Like why would they make this massive switch over both like governmentally, but also just culturally to this thing that firstly was not French and also it was like more complicated. And the things that yeah, the things it was offering was at the time actually like less than what you were able to do. I mean it's how eventually this that changed. But yeah, I think at the start that was my truth of it rather than yeah, like resisting this sort of technological resistance from the individual. Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't seen as progress, it was seen as just another option. So teletext and video text networks similar, but they have a key difference. Teletext is one way communication. So it's used to receive information and you would mostly see this as like on screen text on TV monitors that provide like news and weather information. But what you get with video text which is what minute tell is is two way communication. So the users could send messages back. They could interact with what was happening on the screen. And this allowed for many type like different types of applications and services. The minute How Video Text System was originally designed in 1978 as part of a governmental emphasis on technological innovation, I think to look back at your comment about the general strike, the 1968 general strike. So that was a decade before this. But I do think that there was perhaps this feeling coming out of that was like anti-U.S. maybe, or like I think at the time it was sort of wrapped up in that strike. And the protest was this kind of like like against what the US was doing with the Vietnam War. So perhaps there is like a kind of a shift or even just like establishment of this kind of feeling of wanting to be French and not be relying on, say, like American technology. Yeah. So back to 78 or forward to 78. The government was interested in updating the current telephone network in France and was looking for ways to futureproof and to create technological independence as a country. So in the late seventies, France's telephone network had less than 7 million lines for 47 million citizens. And also the telephone and computer technology that was being used was like starting to be dominated by U.S. companies. There was a report titled The Computerization of Society, and it outlined a plan to extend the telephone network to more users and to update it for telematics, which is a combination of the words telecommunications and informatics. And in this case, that meant video text technologies. This was in France. This was in France. It says that the report is titled The Computerization of Society. But I imagine it was that But in French yeah obviously these video text systems and how in the seventies and eighties nations were investing in, you know, digitalization and kind of making their employed generation quite literate and technology. And so you have things like in France, the computerization of society, and then in Japan, which is what we're going to talk about in the future episode, the information informatics size Asian Society. Yeah, I think it's like Informatization, but it comes from a a guy called Unit XI Masuda and he looks like a sociologist. I think that he wrote a book called The Information Society as post-Industrial Society, which we're going to look at later, but essentially like a yeah, a lot of countries are looking at ways to move away from focusing on industrialization, their economy being based on on like manual labor and like physical things, moving into information as the, like key grounding of of society. So by switching the telephone network or like adding to the telephone network, these video text technologies, it would enable users to interact in text using a terminal machine, which is a simple computer connected to the telephone lines. So you make a call, you dial in number, but instead of connecting to a person on the phone line, you're connected to a text based site. And technically, teletype was the name of the service and Minato is the name of the terminal. But Minato soon took over as the main name in popular use, and it was a brief an abbreviation of with my horrible French medium interactive power noise ACR down from SCA telephonic messaging. Yeah. I mean, so two things to note here, I think that are really fascinating to me personally because the way that Minato worked technically, I think really explains what video text is quite well, because it's basically an information display that connects a screen or like a TV with data input hardware or a terminal with like telephone wires. And I don't know, I just kind of love the idea that I still work with a terminal, like it's a it's an actual app on my computer. And and that's just like an a space where I can write commands. But I didn't know that there was such a thing as like a dumb terminal, which is just more of like a vintage feature. I think that's really cool. Maybe I'll get one. I'm like, I get like a terminal and have like my terminal app on it. They'll be cool. But yeah, and then also the way that they used the word medium in minutes all is super interesting. Again, minute media, even the word like Mini is so cute. Very cute. One mini hardware. Yeah. Just the the word medium is used really well in the sense that there's just this quite intriguing linguistic aspect. They really like made use of the word because it describes it as a medium rather than a tool or an object. And, you know, I do a lot of art projects with people and I always kind of start off by saying that, like the Internet can be a medium and you can use the features and behaviors of the Internet as a creative tool to make anything. So the same way that you would use like Clay and my service class to make a badge, you can use Internet behaviors and digital communication as a form of like creation. So that I think that's like a really nice little foreshadowing touch in miniature in the way that the word is used. Yeah, I mean, I think of that idea of like what is a medium and creative practice in a similar way. I think like I use historical stories or events and things archives as a medium in my practice and you know, how can you ethically like sort of rework these things and mold stuff like clay to turn it into sort of creative projects or to say a certain thing or to like highlight something? I think it's quite a useful mindset to like go to particularly like research based projects, like what is a medium if you're not using like a physical medium? Yeah, I mean, it's like, you know, the number one thing that they teach you in art school at university is they give you the Five Ways of Seeing by John Berger book. That's interesting as well, that you use it in your research in that way because I guess you are like an artist. Researcher Yeah, that's me. So after a small child period, Manitoba at National in 1982. So it began chiefly as a national electronic telephone directory, replacing like the White Pages because they had expanded the telephone network as part of this plan. It was getting really expensive to print like physically print telephone directories every year. And they calculated that buying everybody that was in the phone book a hotel terminal would actually be cheaper in the long run because they could produce a digital phone book rather than printing. So one of the main reasons that Manitoba became so widely used was that the terminal was provided free to telephone subscribers by the state run phone company. It was also incredibly simple and easy to use. You could go to the post office, pick up your main intel terminal for free, and once you're home, plug it in. And it worked pretty much instantly. It looked vaguely like what the early Macintosh computers would later look like, a sort of small beige box with a screen, a keyboard and item. Yeah, very eighties. But that's really boxy. You imagine just like picking up your laptop from a post office. That's incredible. That's a terrible. I want that now. My laptop is struggling. I need a new laptop. Yeah. So later they had like public terminals available in the street and then like the minute our system could also later, like, run on different sorts of terminals and computers eventually some included credit card readers, color displays, memory chips, and even like connections to printers and PCs. Though these upgraded terminals had to be bought by the user that the government the post office just provided like supervised basic. Okay, so the system worked by connecting the telephone network with a packet switching data network called Trans PAC. The advantage of this was that trans fat charged for time, not distance, and use the standard protocol that made the system fairly cheap. The Unitel terminals were text based and use both simple commands and natural language interfaces instead of the URLs of today. Users access sites using short codes of letters and numbers, usually starting with 3615, followed by four letters 3611 was the phone directory and was free of charge for 3 minutes at a time. So you would dial a number and it would connect you through the phone line to a particular service which functioned similarly to a website. Today. And the codes were advertised like URLs now, so in advertising, on television, print and public ads. So this kind of works really similarly to how ports are being used in our URL. Like the first the first thing that you have any URL, the like method that the computer receives, information like that h h t h Is your hypertext transfer something protocol code? Yeah. So it's not port, but port is like the number alongside the IP address. So the Internet protocol address that specifies like the destination application of servers running on that host computer and it's always four digits. So that's why it reminded me of the 3615 code and it's kind of establishing what exactly it's listening to. And in this way, that's also another funny kind of linguistic connection that we're making here because this was also produced from a lot of telephony, hardware and technology, and now it's still kind of listening in the same sort of way. But now you have like 65,000 different ports and you have like port 20 and 21, which is like for file transfer protocol, you have 22 for remote log in, you have 53 for like domain name systems. You have 80 for hypertext transfer protocol, and then you have like one for three for email and messaging. And this especially used a lot when you're developing software and you're working from your terminal and then you write in a command with your port and then it shows up in your browser and you just write in that port. So super funny how there's that little connection there. Yeah. And then later I'll mention this later in this episode. But there were other so like this is 3615 and 3611 was the phone directory. But later there were other options that gave some different pricing levels. So you could tell like how much it was going to cost to access the site by what that first four digit number was. So while the infrastructure of MINUSTAH was run by the government originally the TGT, the telecommunication branch of the post Telegraph and telephone, which later became France Telecom, the services which users could access were largely run by private companies. However, because private servers couldn't connect to each other, it had to go through the centralized public data network. So each host had to be approved and registered by the state. So is this real like combination of public and private enterprise? And while only this house started as an electronic phone book, it soon expanded to include many private services, including ones with virtual communities. In 1983, there were 145 services available, which reached more than 20,000 by 1993. Ten years later, that's incredible growth. I mean, those those stats, those numbers, they look good for business. Oh, my money's going to tell you I want to invest right now. Get me some of those things so users can send direct messages. They could check the news, check stock prices, talk and chat rooms, play multiplayer games, log shop for groceries, remotely control home appliances, access banking services, check the weather, make travel reservations, books, Cinema tickets, apply to university check exam results and access state services. It also had versions of Siri and Alexa called Claire and Sophie, which could enact natural language commands. So they were they weren't even really using this for work that much like they were using this for leisure and to socialize. And it was kind of a part of the everyday, but like not necessarily for for bureaucracy or financialization, like it was used for entertainment, which is really great. Yeah. I mean, I think it probably replaced more sort of the the things that you the errands that you would run, the like that you had to make the phone call or go to the train station or like it was a way to get information, but then also to like book a ticket. You could just do that. And then there was this whole other side, which was the, yeah, the leisure entertainment side. And you could talk to sexy women voices on the call like Claire and Sophie, right? Sophie I mean, it's not like listening to the voices. It would be like text. Oh, right. Okay. Text based, but. But they sexy came out writing. Yeah. That's so funny that these digital assistants had, like, female names. You still have the classic female receptionist represented in technology. So it was also must have been a time where women were included more in the workforce and they were still kind of having their roles being like established in these workspaces. And you would have these very gendered roles come up like the assistant or the nurse or the receptionist and always kind of like the helper or like the care. Yeah, and like it is still happening now. So and even though maybe, I mean, maybe Alexa, but Siri, you know, the normally like standard is a female sounding voice, but like maybe the names of becoming a little more futuristic or. It's so obvious, though, isn't it, Because you're literally like coding like female gender into these technologies and then once they become annoying or once they become part of your everyday life and you can it's so easy to like blame things on these technologies and like there's this really common trend of like supermarkets employing female voiced self checkout machines into their systems and there's all the users and all the people that go to the shopping to do their shopping. They like complain about how loud they are and the always like telling them what to do and then they just like switch it to the male voice and then the like. Complaints decrease and so you can see how just like sexism and misogyny is completely exacerbated in these technologies and by gendering them in the first place is just really stupid. Yeah, there's actually another element of that with Mattel that we'll get to later and that we're actually going to explore in our next episode. But yeah, e-tailers as old as time. All right. So originally traditional media outlets were suspicious of this like new video text technology, but they later formed partnerships. The government ensured that new sites on the main hotel system were regulated, so news outlets had to prove that they also ran a print publication. So like digital only news outlets like new ones that had popped up to take advantage weren't allowed, which hopefully would ensure that traditional print publications wouldn't lose readers. But companies circumvented this by printing fake newspapers, just like one edition and then stopping publishing once they were approved. And this was known collectively as the Ghost Press. I like that name. It reminds me of the like ghost kitchens from that I like on ubereats and and delivery apps. Well, those apps were like originally made for business. I helping that owner to facilitate delivery from like physical existing restaurants. And then like over the years there's been these like ghost kitchens or restaurants that have popped up whose whole purpose is to deliver meals on these apps. And so it's like not a, not a restaurant that you can go to, and there'll be like one kitchen for multiple different like branding of restaurants on the app. Yeah. So in a similar way that there were yeah, there were these newspapers and news media outlets that, that popped up that existed solely on me to tell. So what worked really well for the companies which hosted services online to tell and for the users was the simple billing system. This system allowed for e-commerce to become incredibly popular and integrated into everyday life a decade before it would start on the internet. Users were billed per minute of use plus for specific purchases. These were billed through their monthly phone bill. In 1988, users were spending about equivalent US ten U.S. dollars per hour. The revenue was split between France Telecom, who took about a third, and the operators of the service that the person was paying for. This meant that service providers didn't need to have billing systems built into their own sites. It was all handled by the phone company in 1984, the billing system evolved to the kiosk multimedia. This was named for like the straight news stands in Paris, and so now eight levels of pricing were available to service providers and these were indicated to the users through different starting code numbers. And I sort of think in many ways at the minute how kiosks could be seen as like an early version of the App Store that like you could it was this like centralized billing system that had these different services that you could access, but it was all anonymous and the service just would appear like the bill would just appear simply as minutes of time on the user's phone bill. It didn't like have a listing of what they did in that time. And this anonymity was a really big draw of minutes and a large part of like the cultural understanding of it and was quite protected. So there was a tracking of how much time you spent. I mean, it's how generally, but the content providers didn't know who was using their services. There was no names or credit cards required. And then the bills that came with the phone bill didn't disclose the services access, just the lump sum per billing cycle. So if you're working like with minutes before your job, if you like doing, I don't know, research, you could kind of Skype off in a chat room and no one would actually know from the bill. Same way that like the App Store isn't an actual story. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Yep. The anonymity also meant that placing lonely hearts, personal ads and accessing versions of online porn and risque chat rooms became really popular. These adult oriented services were known as Mr. or saying Mr. Shapiro's say or minute hell rose or Pink in this whole sort of like the Minato red light district nice And the governor was like a bit embarrassed, quite embarrassed by how popular this element of them in his health system became, particularly because heavy traffic from initial rose cause like an epic system crash in in 85 plus like multiple other system crashes. So in these sexy chat rooms men would write to their dates which were more often than not, men posing as women in versions of call centers known as animate trees. These workers were sometimes paid in money, but some were also paid in minutes. How connection time and later bots were created and also like software on connected PCs that would allow them to talk to multiple people at the one at one time like Clear and Sophie. Well, Claire and Sophie are. Yeah. And that was like then you. No, I think it's that like they are but Right but like I think that with this site Pink minis, how many how was it. It wasn't clear if who you were talking to was a real person or, or a but it was known that this was a thing that was happening also, like people posing as like other people to either like change it changing agenda or or just like personality, like you're just working. You're not you're not a real sexy lady. That's like it. Sexy ladies in your neighborhood, it's playing a part and you're getting paid, you know? Yeah, I guess that's also something we'll look more into in the bonus episode, right? Yes, we will. That's an exciting episode. And yeah, was the government just embarrassed by this or was was sex work decriminalized? Like was it legal to do these things or did they try and like, show us? Yeah, I don't have my research for that. This is all from my brain. But essentially I think it was that like this technically wasn't sex work and it wasn't illegal. But then also like at the time, you know, what is what is digital sex work like? What is this sex like? Exactly. And things that were just becoming established. There was a real separation between like physical sex workers and this sort of like digital labor sex work that was happening. And basically sex workers like physical sex workers were not allowed or they were pushed out of of trying to work in these digital spaces largely by the companies that were controlling these chat rooms. So they some of these animatronics people that were working were actually also hired to monitor to see if anybody was trying to use the service, because physical sex workers were seen as like taking away profits from the digital chat rooms because they were taking clients like out of the digital world and into the physical world. Yeah, they were pushed out of these spaces, these spaces that were like controlled by private enterprises. Then they were also like some high profile crimes and like murders and some horrible things that happened. And that was a bit of like there was an outcry, a public outcry around it. But essentially the government was starting to say like, well, we're not we're not in charge of censorship. Like, that's not what we're doing. We're just providing this as a like a as a service. But they were like, we're going to get we're going to wait out like the really dark stuff. And so I think anything that was illegal, like physically illegal. So, you know, like pedophilia and things, the if that was coming up in like the text based chat rooms, the idea was that those rooms would get shut down. I'm not sure how much that actually occurred because it's hard to kind of control, but I did read about how some of these so like the private services were going through and like doing a bit of self censorship and monitoring just so that they wouldn't be taken down. So yeah, it's a quite a complex network system of, of censorship and like freedom as well. Yeah. So in 1984 the government added a feature where the terminal would save the last page that you visited so that you could pick up again next time you logged in. Kind of like a cookie. I guess that people generally, like, hated it, hated this idea. There were op eds in the newspapers saying that it was like Big Brother and people were protesting by returning their terminals. So this feature, I don't know if it was used and then dropped or they just like it never came to fruition. But the anonymity of it was also useful for other things, such as there was like a big university student strike in 1986, and that was organized through through them in Intel system. Yeah, it's kind of just like a privacy is attitude because I think I'm just going to kind of expand on lettuce and a little bit because a lot of people don't actually know what that word means. Like when someone says like, Oh, I'm a Luddite, they usually refer to the fact that they're like bad with technology, but it's actually the history of lettuce. Them as a movement is really rooted in like workers striking against technology. And then finding out that actually they can just have control of these technologies and machines and then just have a little bit more like policy and rules around like how it should be used safely. Yeah. So the term Luddite means someone who is, you know, anti-technology or maybe just not adept at using technology. That's the the social representation of what it is now. But historically, the modern the modern meaning. Yeah, but the Luddite movement was a reaction born of industrial accidents and dangerous machines and poor working conditions. And the fact that there were no unions to represent worker interests during England's initial period of industrialization. So the Luddites did not hate technology. They only channeled their anger towards machine breaking because it had sort of nowhere else to go. So these strikes were actually usually quite violent and involved a lot of hammering down machines that initially hurt someone like their power or their power or their coworker. And yeah, so in the early 1820s, each factory set up its own like distributed Luddite councils, which were elected from the cadres, which are basically like wage earners or employees. This term is completely archaic. But yeah, they were basically creators, not employees, and they were not convinced that the free market should be the only determinant of technology. So instead they really firmly believed that had to be adopted democratically and used for the common good, not just for the interest of the few and let speeches during the time, and to use the kind of leader of the movement made the point that technological goals and resource allocation and were to be decided in advance based on social needs and prioritization and invention was to be paid for and encouraged in those areas. So yeah, I think that's quite, quite similar to what was happening with Minato, especially with the student strikes and kind of self-organized ation and how it facilitates them. Maybe grassroots activism. Yeah, it's like there's something about the like this simple nature of them in a tell, you know, maybe it was just like easy to understand how it could be used or see how it could be integrated because it was kind of just like a text based version of other things of like the phone way more than the Internet. Then the Internet is the Internet seems like its own based. But the yeah, the minute health services well there were you know like games you could play and all sorts of stuff like the things that you were doing on them in the how were largely things that you will maybe already doing. It was just like an updated, faster, more convenient version of that. So at its peak in the mid nineties there were 9 million sets in homes with 25 million users, which was which was 34% of the French population. And there were over 26,000 services available. That's a connected population. The transition to the Internet and the World Wide Web began only at the end of the 1990s. This has been described as the French delay, suggesting that the success of the Frenchman is has slowed the implementation and uptake of the internet minute how he created and reflected certain attitudes and expectations in the government and general population that were hard for the internet to overcome to gain uses. Neanderthal was seen as highly reliable. Both the service itself and the hardware, which was easy to use and had longevity from a government perspective. Minute House started breaking even and making money for them in the mid-nineties, and I guess they continued. They wanted to continue doing that. Well, Minister, it also worked exceptionally well for e-commerce and there was a perception that the Internet was lacking in this area because it didn't have a simple centralized billing system and it was felt that the like the open style of the Internet would discourage private commercial services. So like in a way, France with minute how back then was kind of where we're at now with this like commercialization of the Internet. Yeah, the Internet wasn't doing for the French what but the minute how could you so anything the French would want to do on the internet they were already doing want me to tell the internet just wasn't providing a new enough service to warrant an entire network change or an entire mental shift. So as the Internet started to grow in use around the world and in France, Minato also stuck around and alongside the terminals, users could then access minutes on their PCs or their Macs using emulation software. In 23 minutes. Hell was offered as part of French versions of Microsoft's operating system, and because of the importance of minute health services, the Internet was used in France in very specific ways and so very specific circumstances. With the shift to the Internet, French companies felt that they needed to stay with the text based functional design style of the minute. So there was a sense that the new flashy American sites were a bit gauche. It was also seen as not offering new that the minute it wasn't already offering. Early French Internet sites were often just expanded versions of the minute health sites. Now, with the ability to display more complex images, but some of these sites didn't incorporate e-commerce, and then they instead directed users back to the minute health system to make purchases. So minutes was seen as a way to order and the Internet was seen as a way to advertise. At this point, they were kind of running side by side and to just display. Yeah, I mean, it's a very symbolic of the Internet's identity crisis while it was being built and spread across the globe, because there was just almost like too many possibilities. And I can imagine a lot of people at the time would have had arguments about what it was exactly for, like whether it was a tool to ease bureaucracy and facilitate financialization from the post-industrial era, or was it for entertainment? Like, what is it? Yeah, I'm still asking that question. Yeah, that's good too. And like, I suppose with Intel, it was like, What is it? It's a phone directory. It's a phone book. And then slowly it was like you can order train tickets and yeah, so like it, they knew what it was for from the start and then like it proliferated into these like 26,000 different services. But you know, it didn't happen at once. So while later than the rest of the world, when the Internet did emerge in France, it had a fast growth rate. In 1999, it grew 60% compared to 41% in rest of Europe. After trying and mostly failing at developing minute how connections and networks in other countries. In the end, the global reach of the Internet and its ability to display images overwhelmed the importance of minutes how in French society more time and money was starting to be put into developing websites. It's then improving and developing them in its health system. The minute all network was closed in June 2012, after 30 years, it was still accessed by a large number of people, but they were mostly just using the original phone directory, I guess probably because the services weren't being like monitored or updated as much. The other services the cost of the upkeep of the network was becoming too large for the government and that's why they closed that, which I think is kind of funny because like the is how originally that was developed because the phone directory printing, physically printing, the phone directory was it was costing too much money. So they developed this hotel network and now the minute cell network is too costly, it's too costly. Like the phone directory on them is whole network is too costly that they have to close in. So this is how it became popular. And so many people used it largely because because it was state subsidized like everyone that wanted it got a free terminal from. And it also from the post office. But I think this has been insane. I'm not sure. Like everyone went, it was like a draw. I'm going to tell a pandemic. It also became enmeshed in day to day economic life through these like public and private partnerships of yeah, like the tech and then also the the services being offered is also created. Yeah, created slowly. And it built on existing systems like existing telephone networks, things that people were already using in public projects. And it took on public feedback as it was developed. So the Internet wasn't like an answer to problems with minutes. So in fact, the Internet had to prove itself more useful than minute. How in order for users and service operators to take it up. I guess also the internet was a more opportunistic alternative to monetize that had more potential to build capital because as we mentioned, it was the eighties and the post-industrial era was very real and also globalization is happening and you're expanding to make your businesses more international and shipping costs. So the Internet was a way to kind of like hook up all of these things, whereas Meditech, I think was a little bit more communal, a little bit more national. Yeah, that's fascinating. Thank you, Kamila. That was awesome. Thanks for listening to a rant about me to tell if you want more, but where we've got our next episode is about this. How people, how many towers? Yeah, a little bit more of a deep dive into that side which was I think like 50% of the traffic over the tower was these like, erotic services. That's insane. I wonder what it is for the Internet? Yeah, I don't know. Is it even, like, traceable for us? For normies? Like us? I don't think. I don't. I don't hire our next sort of set of episodes again to be looking at other video text networks from around the globe. They were very popular in Europe. And then there was, yeah, there were some expansions into other areas of the world, but there was it wasn't something where all of these video text networks could meet up together and form like a global video text network, mainly because like each country there was like four different versions, like different protocols. And they couldn't necessarily they weren't compatible. And so it was like dependent on, yeah, who else had the same ones? And then to be on, it's like no other country reached the, like widespread use of video text as France did like this was just completely integrated into life and you know the economy and yeah that was mostly because it was like anybody that wanted to chime in or could get a terminal and it was really like encouraged. And there was just like something about the way that they set up the establishment of this system that like worked with French society. Yeah. And also it must be incredible to produce a product that is so simple to use that you don't even need people to come round to your house to like, teach you how to use the terminal or whatever, like the hardware must have been very much based on existing designs already as well. Maybe like a typewriter or something. Well, it had a keyboard. Yeah. And you still called with your phone, so like it was connected to the phone line, but I'm pretty sure like, yeah, you would actually, like, pick up the phone and type in at least the early ones and type in like three things, like I find whatever. And then that would like connect popping up on your screen instead of, Yeah, a person on the other end popping up on your screen would be like natural language interface. Your phone was the URL for it. Yeah. Cool. So yeah, well get ready for sexy minute chat next. Next episode, we'll talk to you next time. Bye. Thanks, everyone. Goodbye.