Articles tagged with Minitel:

  • A High-Tech Minitel

    This article is the continuation of my Minitel series: a Minitel as a Linux terminal, and a Minitel 2.0.

    It's rather easy to remove legacy electronics and unmount the cathodic tube from the Minitel to replace them with a Raspberry Pi and a flat screen. However, the difficult part would be adapting the Minitel's proprietary keyboard.

    Therefore, in this article, we will first make a generic USB keyboard controller for the Minitel 1B out of an Arduino board. We'll use an Arduino Pro Micro. It is roughly equivalent to the Pro Mini, except it has an on-board USB transceiver, which will allow us to configure it as a USB Keyboard. Then, we'll fit a 8-inch LCD panel to replace the old CRT. I chose an Innolux HE080IA-01D panel with driver board. Its dimensions and 1024x768 resolution make it a perfect candidate for our use case here.

    The Minitel's keyboard is a simple matrix one. Key presses close circuits, and by continuously scanning the matrix, the controller can deduce which keys are pressed. Sadly, the matrix is non-standard, so we have to retro-engineer it...

    The keyboard contact board extracted from a Minitel

    The keyboard contact board extracted from …

  • A Minitel 2.0

    This article is the continuation of my previous article on the Minitel.

    These are dark times we live in. Far from the original design of the Internet whose cornerstone was decentralisation, the Web has created a split between servers and clients, between service providers and service consumers, between the ones who harvest data and the ones who are harvested. To use the expression forged by Benjamin Bayart (in French), the Internet is bascially converging back to a Minitel 2.0.

    Let's take the statement literally and build an actual Minitel 2.0!

    My idea is simple: there is an unused extension bay at the rear of the Minitel 1B where we can lodge a Rasberry Pi connected to the Minitel as its terminal. This will effectively add modern Ethernet, Wifi, and USB connectivity to a 35-year-old Minitel.

    To hold the Pi, I designed and 3D-printed a replacement for the rear panel. The OpenSCAD source and the STL models are available here (under GPLv3).

    Replacement for the rear panel holding the Raspberry Pi

    Replacement for the rear panel holding the Raspberry Pi

    The support piece is printed separately, then clipped and glued to the panel before the Pi is secured …

  • A Minitel as a Linux terminal

    The Minitel (from the French Médium Interactif par Numérisation d'Information Téléphonique) was an interactive videotex online service accessible through phone lines, operated in France from 1982 by the state-owned PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones), the ancestor of France Télécom. The service was retired in 2012, after more than 30 years of existence. It might have been the world's most successful early online service, before the World Wide Web era. It offered services like telephone directory, purchases, reservations, mail, and chat just like the Web offers today.

    The Minitel, starting from model 1B, can be used as a VT100-compatible Linux terminal with the proper wiring. So let's try...

    Minitel 1

    The first version of the Minitel, made by Telic Alcatel. So 80s.

    Before starting to tinker, it's interesting to recall that the story behind the Minitel is actually pretty tragic despite its success. In the 70s, France was leading research on packet-switched networks. The CYCLADES project, directed by Louis Pouzin, inventor of the datagram, designed an early datagram-based packet communications network. In parallel, the French PTT was developing Transpac, a packet network based on virtual circuit switching with the emerging X.25 standard …