Apple's Jobs tapped France 3615 for pre-internet ideas

PARIS Thu Jul 5, 2012 8:58pm IST

A circuit board, screen and plastic front from a French Minitel terminal which are broken down into its components, are collected for recycling in Portet-Sur-Garonne, southwestern France May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Bruno Martin/Files

A circuit board, screen and plastic front from a French Minitel terminal which are broken down into its components, are collected for recycling in Portet-Sur-Garonne, southwestern France May 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Bruno Martin/Files

Related Topics

PARIS (Reuters) - The man who turned Apple into a web-connected empire of consumer gadgets drew some of his inspiration from a table-top box that wired French households to networked information way before the arrival of mass Internet, a French telecoms engineer says.

Long before hundreds of millions of homes worldwide began connecting to the Internet in the 1990s, France's Minitel box, the steam train of the online world, attracted the attention of Apple Inc's now deceased founder, Steve Jobs.

The clunky Minitel, pulled out of service at the end of June, was used by some 25 million people in France at the time for services ranging from checking the weather to making travel reservations and posting small ads.

"He bought one and took it to bits to see how it worked," Gerard Thery, one of the Frenchmen behind the 1982 launch of the Minitel system, told business newspaper Economie Matin.

Two decades of Internet sealed the fate of what once looked like a technological wonder that might conquer the world with a then wide range of shopping and travel booking services, accessible via the dial-up code 3615.

Its famous "Minitel Rose" sex chat lines were blamed for the astronomical phone bills of many unwitting customers.

Originally designed by France Telecom as an online directory to save paper, the Minitel never caught on abroad and was used by fewer and fewer French in recent years as the Internet, and the flashy gadgets made by companies like Apple, rendered it obsolete.

(Reporting By Brian Love, editing by Paul Casciato)

FILED UNDER:

TECH WRAP

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage