Only in France could the public resources have been mobilised to give the project its initial boost. So for a few years, the country was the envy of the world.
But then, immobility and inertia - as the market simply passed by.
“The failure of Minitel was not one of technology,” says Benjamin Bayart, head of France’s oldest internet provider, French Data Network.
The design of the Minitel changed over time
“It was the whole model that was doomed. Basically to set up a service on Minitel, you had to ask permission from France Telecom. You had to go to the old guys who ran the system, and who knew absolutely nothing about innovation.
“It meant that nothing new could ever happen. Basically, Minitel innovated from 1978 to 1982, and then it stopped,