This very odd
system owned by DigiBarn co-founder Allan
Lundell was part of a one year test ot the French government's minitel
system in the USA. Minitel was very popular in the 80s in France as an
online phonebook and yellow/white pages, rudimentary gaming and early
messaging. The Bay Area of Northern California was the test area for Minitel
in America. Allan Lundell got a test terminal as journalist for Mondo
2000 (forerunner of Wired Magazine). The test program was for up to 50,000
people and they may have gotten 500. Dusty Park, a Bay Area astrologer
and Loren Carpenter (chief scientist at Pixar) tried to do astrology on
the Minitel network. Another US Videotel owner in Los Angeles recently
contacted the DigiBarn and we may try a direct dial hookup with him.
More Testimonials on US Videotel and the Minitel
From Florian Brody (March 2003)
Minitel was conceived in France as replacement for expensive telephone directories on paper - and after lessthan 2 years giving away the units was cheaper than giving out tel directories. At that time France weas the only country with packet switching networks and other advanced stuff - they are always ahead and then fall back - way back.
From DigiBarn virtual guest Niconemo Castellan (June 2003)
It's amazing ! This story about an american Minitel network ! The French government (my gov.) is trying for years to get rid of the Minitel. It is supposed to retard the penetration of the Internet market in France. Indeed, it is still very popular ! Most of the french used to have one beside their phone (I still have one in my cellar) and many Computer here are equipped with a Minitel emulator. Hey ! I can deal with you... how many units do you want ? ;-)
From Randy Farrow (email@example.com) reported in May 2004
I find your section on US Videotel amusing since I worked for them as a Sales Supervisor here in Dallas back in 1990. Brings back fond memories. From my understanding it first arrived here in the States in Houston around 1988 before coming to Dallas late 1989. I have a friend that worked for them from 1988-90 in Houston that wrote the PC emulator software as well as the Apple GS emulator. I wish I still had my box but unfortunately it was lost many years ago during a move.
Public response was OK at best. My wife and I were two of the top sales people in the area before I moved into a supervisory position. What people were mainly interested in was the chat service that was offered. Chat parties would go on once a month or so where people could meet others around the area. We were also able to chat back and forth between Dallas and Houston. The chat service almost had somewhat of a cult following. I cant really remember how many subscribers we had at the time, maybe a few thousand here in Dallas/Ft. Worth before they started to go bankrupt in late '90. I had left a few months before that but my wife was with them until the bitter end.
A few of the other services they had to offer were AP news feed, stock quotes, local sports news and weather, local resturant information, encyclopidia, and I believe that near the end they had just started grocery shopping and a few others that escapes me right now. One thing we tried to push was that US Videotel offered local information where services like Compuserve and Prodigy (the competition) were national and didn't offer much for local community information.
Allan Lundell also reports (May 2004)
That Mr. Dusty Park of Marin County, California was setting up to provide astrology services to Minitel USA.
From Amaury Jacquot (May 2005)
I have noticed your piece on the american version of the Minitel terminal, and, depending on the version, you may be able to connect it and show stuff on it. the french version features a 5 pin DIN connector with a serial port (TTL levels, need a max 232) that allows it to be connected to a PC. I have the original docs somewhere, that I would gladly scan. (these would be copyright by France telecom, if I remember correctly).
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