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France, 1980

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The Minitel is a small, on-line computer with multi-services that can be connected to any French telephone line and can be accessed internationally via modem hook-up. The basic telephone directory service which has virtually replaced the telephone book in France is available free of charge to anyone possessing a telephone.

minitelf6.gif (7116 bytes)
the minitel network principle

Although the basic service, the information directory, obtained by simply dialing 11, is free for the first two minutes, other services such as banking, shopping, research, ticket reservations, dating services, porno, etc. accessed by dialing 36.14, 36.15, 36.16, and 36.17 prefixes on the phone, followed by different serveur codes on the Minitel unit, are charged by the minute directly to your semi-monthly telephone bill. Prices vary for different services, ranging from 37 centimes a minute to over 3 FF, with some highly specialized services costing much more. Rates are listed at the beginning of the connection. So be careful with this fascinating, seductive, and vastly useful tool, and toy.


The Minitel 2, a new generation of Minitel, is now in place with some 8000 services. The Minicom 3612 service permits you to conduct constant on-line correspondence with any other Minitel. Additionally, Minitel 12 is available, the state of the arts Minitel unit which affords users all sorts of telecommunications services and can be connected to modem, computer, printer, video....
The Agoris 55 is a personal fax machine that sits on the Minitel and prints from the Minitel.

Throughout Paris you will see a strange host of billboards advertising Minitel services. These begin with the access numbers plus a usually catchy code, 36.15 CUM, a service for singles to meet, talk, play, seduce, sometimes marry. The 2000-plus porn-oriented services, better known as "messageries roses", have generated some controversy; the State has tried to limit "unhealthy" use of the Minitel while it reaps the huge financial benefits of electronic quasi-porn. Minitel services have erupted over the last few years. Additionally, telephone numbers with 36 are often special-rate services, games, contests, and pay-for-information lines. Many television shows have 36 services for viewers. Rates can be as steep as 9 francs per minute.








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