Many years ago, long before the birth of the web, there was a time when France was the happening-est place in the digital universe.
What the TGV was to train travel, the Pompidou Centre to art, and the Ariane project to rocketry, in the early 1980s the Minitel was to the world of telecommunications.
And so on Saturday, exactly 30 years after it was launched, the Minitel is bowing out. After that, the little beige box will answer no more.
Essentially, it was the largest bulletin board system (BBS) ever created. I once installed a linux Minitel client, just because I could (and for the retro chic of it all).
Of course, it was nothing but retro chic. The 'Net has been a far better search engine than Minitel for perhaps half of this 30 years. Rather than move its subscribers to the newer, better, faster, cheaper Internet, France dumped billions of francs into the system because it was French, and not created by those cowboy anglophones. That was a very French solution, but it seems enough is finally enough.
Me, I blame George W. Bush.