The service was rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany and throughout France in 1982 by the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones; divided since 1991 between France Télécom and La Poste).
From its early days, users could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a similar way to what is now made possible by the Internet.
Libération offered 24-hour online news, such as results from events at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles that occurred overnight in France.
France Télécom estimates that almost 9 million terminals—including web-enabled personal computers (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux)—had access to the network at the end of 1999, and that it was used by 25 million people (of a total population of 60 million).
Developed by 10,000 companies, in 1996, almost 26,000 different services were available.
The development of Minitel spawned the creation of many start-up companies in a manner similar to the later dot-com bubble of Internet-related companies.
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