I have never used Minitel. I have never seen one in person. However, as a student learning French in the 1990s, I was introduced to the existence of the little machine that people in France had in their homes. It was an one-stop connection to information. It could tell you movie listings. It was a phone book without the book. This may not seem so impressive now. But back then, the idea that a whole country was connected by a home electronic was quite fascinating and very modern. It seemed to be a closer step to the video phone from “The Jetsons.” Now that the internet is available to the masses, the Minitel is no longer necessary. However, it will always have a place in computer history as the precursor to the internet.
“France Bids Adieu to Minitel, Its Internet Forerunner” [time.com]
“Europe and the First Mass-Market ‘Webs’” [Computer History Museum]