It is official. Minitel -- France's hugely successful precursor to the internet -- is soon to receive the final chop. It has been a long and slow execution but, as of the 30th of June 2010, Minitel will be no more. For French genealogists, this marks the end of an era, especially for the cercles, that used it heavily. The genealogical information that various groups had extracted from records and put on databases accessed via Minitel are now mostly available on Genealogie.com (another site that seems to have had its pages designed by a magpie).
Minitel was a service launched in 1982 by France Telecom. One rented or bought a funky little terminal that linked via the phone line to the system. At its peak, in the 1990s, it had nine million users accessing over 25,000 sites. One bought airline and train tickets on Minitel; one checked exam results; one could access over seventy genealogy sites. Yet, one did not connect to the rest of the world, so the internet won out.
The dial up number for the services was discontinued in 2009. There was an utterly useless Minitel-internet linking attempt for a bit, called i-minitel, but that too is shut down. Now, some 800,000 people are wondering how to get rid of their environmentally unfriendly terminals. Many will end up in the local déchetterie.
It gives one pause: what will happen to all of our carefully created websites and scrupulously sourced and copied genealogical work when the internet will become obsolete?
©2011 Anne Morddel