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ScuzzBlog: Diaries 2018

March 08: Entry 1806: scuzzblog: Post: 1

Telic Alcatel - Life before the Internet

The Telic Alcatel Minitel

The Telic Alcatel is a Mintel device made in France in 1986  
PERSONNEL INFORMATION was a videotext online service which used
the telephone lines to communicate. Access was gained by typing
in numbers and costs were attributable depending on the type of
service you were accessing. In the days before the internet most
tube subways in France during this era would carry adverts for
chat lines and the like with the numbers and tariff listed on
the often evocative images. There was some concern at the time
that those under age could gain access to the system.

Very popular in France where the system was launched to both try
and give the French a much needed boost to their dilapidated
telephone system and to hopefully give the population a giant
leap into the world of computers.

My terminal was made for the UK as the label states. Plus it has
a UK electric plug and telephone connection. There is some kind
of restriction on functionality as this model does not have the
FNCT key though does have a 5-pin DIN socket, or so it appears.

Whilst the service for the Minitel was discontinued in 2012 there
are those that are able to gain some access through the system.
There is one guy that I read up on whilst doing this blog that
connected via his Raspberry Pi. He has links to various other
sites and useful information.

Anyway, Minitel is the terminal and Teletel is the network. They
generally use half-duplex asymmetric data transmission via the
internal modem.. which you can hear kick in by pressing the set-up
from the keyboard. The terminal also gives out a welcome phone
style beep when switched on. Generally it would downlink at 1200 bit/s
and uplink at 75 bit/s. This was quite fast for the time.

The most popular use for minitel was as the phone directory. In
France called the "Annuaire Electronique". One other popular use
for the system was the organisation of strikes and rallies by
students in France.

Sadly without the telephone I cannot truly test whether mine is
working. I get a rather odd screen display but also can type in
text over the garbled pattern at the head of the screen. The unit
gives out the normal pre modem boot up when clicking start-up
so maybe with a little tweak could work. No real purpose though
without the network to use. Still a very interesting bit of retro.

The Telic Alcatel Minitel

The Telic Alcatel Minitel 1986

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Last updated 08/03/2018

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