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Older people, like Claudette, 80, say they will be devastated when they lose their little terminals.
It has often been argued that the obsession of the French state with the Minitel impeded France's conversion to the internet."I have a little table with my Minitel, my telephone and my answering-machine. "Gérard Neyret has been campaigning for three years for the Minitel system to be preserved."You don't get the clouds of useless information that you get on the internet," he said. It was a remarkable invention."On the last day of this month, nonetheless, the last of the Minitel screens will go blank.But France never managed to sell the Minitel technology abroad.The US took a great interest in the French invention in the 1980s but declined to buy it. To all but the stubborn French, the future of information technology was personal computers linked, internationally, by the servers and search engines which created the web.But none of these systems were as comprehensive or effective as Minitel.
On the US system, it could take six minutes for a single page to appear on the screen.
It will prove to be a historic moment, much like the last day of the stage-coaches from Paris to Lyon or the last steam trains from Marseille to Calais.
Guillotine This brutally efficient method of execution, also known as the "great equaliser", was pioneered during the French Revolution and adopted by other countries. Aqua-lung Invented in Paris in the winter of 1942-43 by naval officer Jacques Cousteau and engineer Émile Gagnan, the aqua-lung allows divers to descend hundreds of metres underwater by enabling them to carry the oxygen they breathe.
The surprise is that the network has lasted so long.
There are still 810,000 Minitel terminals in France, mostly used by older people who dislike computers.
Maginot Line A vast defensive fortification built after the First World War on the border with Germany, it was seen as a military triumph.