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Minitel: The Web before the Web

A decade before the web began taking the rest of us online, France was fully connected. By 1984 six million citizens were reading newspapers, sending emails, buying train tickets, paying taxes and engaging in scandalous chat on the Minitel system. That usage grew to over half of the country's population of 60 million by the early 1990s, most tapping away on home terminals offered for free by the French phone company. At its peak there were over 25,000 sites to choose from, and the system wasn’t fully shut down until 2012. How did this first mass online world emerge, and shape the internet we use today? Why did Minitel and its parent Videotex standard fail beyond France - and what lessons does that history hold for today’s online pioneers?

Join Marc Weber, curatorial director of the Museum’s Internet History Program, as he explores these questions with Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll. Mailland and Driscoll are the authors of Minitel: Welcome to the Internet, published by MIT Press in June 2017.

Authors Kevin Driscoll & Julien Mailland in Conversation with Internet History Program Curatorial Director Marc Weber

Thursday, 03/15/18


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Computer History Museum

1401 N Shoreline Blvd
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