Minitel falls under an umbrella category of similar systems, which are rather elusive in terms of definition. There are numerous names for these types of technology that came into existence in the very early 1980's including Teletext, Videotex, or Viewdata. These terms are often used interchangeably and can often lead to confusion due to the fact that there were many different types of services offered as well as many different devices for information retrieval. The International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT) makes a more clear distinction. According to the CCITT, Videotex refers to two-way information services and Teletext refers to one-way services. Michael Tyler defined Teletext/Videotex as "Systems for the widespread dissemination of textual and graphic information by wholly electronic means, for display on low-cost terminals (often suitably equipped television receivers), under the selective control of the recipient, and using control procedures easily understood by untrained users." (Tyler) An analysis of this definition by Tyler's peers points out, "It is significant to note that with the exception of the term "electronic," the definition is medium free." (Tydeman 2) Research proves that indeed there were numerous mediums that all fell under this category. With world wide web as we know it today still in the works, these were attempts to create a network type of communication system. However in most cases, Videotex/Teletext were broadcast type systems. It was possible in some countries for broadcasting companies to create their own teletext networks. For example, in the United States the Corporation for Public Broadcasting even created a guidebook to help broadcasters start up their own transmissions. This clear distinction between message senders and message receivers (except for in chatrooms) is probably one of the main causes of this system's demise. Interestingly, in the guide Carey points out the ability of Teletext to target narrow audiences as a selling point. (Carey 33) In this way Teletext was able to bridge the gap between mass electronic media which had incredible circulation and print periodicals which could already focus their attention on specific audiences. -Types
There were many types of services offered by companies located in various countries. This is a comprehensive list of services we have found thus far.
-News Reports [BBC CEEFAX teletext news system PICTURED] (Sigel 24)
-Electronic Mail [for sending personally addressed messages, Courtesy British Post Office, PICTURED] (Sigel 79)
Hey guys, please find citations for the services you add, to keep this professional. thanks!
The Minitel Terminal
As has been mentioned before, there were a diverse selection of terminals available. There are some universal features that were required. All terminals need some type of display monitor, often monitors were built into the machines or the machines were meant to be used with separate televisions. All systems also require and interface for user input. Most systems featured a qwerty keyboard although some broadcast teletext systems used a more simple device resembling a television remote control. In most cases terminals were meant to be low-cost. Which is an interesting factor to consider considering the extremely high cost of personal computers.
There are definitly some interesting physical features of the Sematel model manufactured in France by LA Radiotechnique a sub-division of Philips Electronic Insturments, Inc.
num pad as opposed to laptop nums power button color aerodynamic modernity?
Minitel did not have what would be considered a graphic user interface. The look of the information displayed on the screen was simply a text interface. For Minitel, the font was standard thoroughout the machine, i.e. it was not an option to change the font style. The typeface was preset into Minitel to appear as the output. The input, e.g. when the user is conducting a search, is comparable to how the screen looks when entering commands into MS-DOS. Similar to other programs that run on the user's input, Minitel runs line by line instead of as a whole screen. The graphics that did exist were rough and primitive according to today's standards. The pixels of a graphic image were often clearly seen as little squares. The simple images were not detailed either. In addition, the color scheme was limited to 2 colors: black and white running on a grayscale.
-Broadcasting vs. chatrooms
According to Michel Landaret, the man responsible for Gretel, the service run by the Strasbourg newspaper: We were running an experiment with a very small number of users, to determine whether professional associations and institutions would use data banks. The DGT had not focused on Minitel’s communication functions. What happened with Gretel altered the users’ relationship to the service in a crucial way. What had only a few dozen users who called into service. For research purposes, we monitored their usage. We could see how people new to the system could get confused and enter a series of ineffective commands. So we designed a system to communicate with those users by sending a message directly to their screen, and receive messages back from them, to help them learn how to use the system. One of our users just cracked that part of the system and used it to talk with friends. As soon as we found out what was happening, we made improvements on the service and made it a legitimate part of the system. They loved it (as quoted in Rheingold 227-228). THIS IS HOW THEY REALIZED THE MINITEL COULD BE USED FOR MESSAGING AND CHATROOMS INSTEAD FOR JUST BROADCASTING INFORMATION
Marketing, Revenue, and Tariffs
The French Phenomenon
The Minitel was strictly a French innovation because it did not spread throughout the world, or even to the rest of Europe.
"Like the inefficient QWERTY keyboard layout created in the nineteenth century that blocked more efficient key placements, Minitel locked users into a relatively inefficient technology that nonetheless still served an extremely valuable function" (Trumbull 61). -french language
Withstanding the Internet
Homosexuality and Expression
-yahoo -that website -our experience trying to access it
- Benghozi, Pierre-Jean, and Christian Licoppe. "Technological National Learning: From Minitel to Internet." The Global Internet Economy". Ed. Bruce Kogut. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 153-190.
- Carey, John. Teletext Guidebook: a Report for Office of Policy Development and Planning Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Greystone Communications, 1984.
- Cats-Baril, Willam, Jelassi, Tawfik, and Teboul, James. "Establishing a National Information Infrastructure: The Case of the French Videotex system, Minitel". Strategic Information Systems: A European Perspective. Eds. Ciborra, Claudio, and Tawfik Jelassi. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994. 73-98.
- Duyves, Mattias. "The Minitel: The Glittering Future of a New Invention." Gay Studies from the French Cultures: Voices from France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and The Netherlands. Eds. Mendes-Leite, Rommel, and Pierre-Olivier de Busscher. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc., 1993. 193-203.
- Sigel, Efrem, ed. Videotext: the Coming Revolution in Home/Office Information Retrieval. White Plains, NY.: Knowledge Industry Publications, Inc., 1980.
- Thomas, Robert J. New Product Success Stories: Lessons from Leading Innovators. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
- Trumbull, Gunnar. Silicon and the State: French Innovation Policy in the Internet Age. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004.
- Tydeman, John, Hubert Lipinksi, Richard P. Adler, Michael Nyhan, and Laurence Zwimpfer. Teletext and VideoTex in the United States: Market Potential Technology Public Policy Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Publications Company, 1982.
- Tyler, Michael: “Electronic Publishing: Sketch of the European Experience,” Teletext and Viewdata in the U.S.: A Workshop on Emerging Issues, Background Papers, Institute for the Future, Menlo Park, Calif., 1979.