Minitel 5

Below center (and to the right in the subsequent two pictures) is our Minitel 5 laptop. This machine could be battery operated, and featured a car-phone jack.

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Minitel 5 is a physical embodiment of the closed and controlled Minitel network design. When we tried to open the case, we realized that its innards are protected by two layers of hard plastic. First, the machine's case is welded (or possibly super-glued) shut. Cutting through the case, however, is not enough to open it. It is further held together by a series of screws, the heads of which are themselves encased in plastic. A small electric saw is needed in order to fully open the machine.

minitel hackathon

minitel hackathon

minitel hackathon

Below is the cover of the user manual for Minitel 5. It was likely marketed to traveling salesmen, as evidenced by the picture of the machine plugged into a carphone in a brand-new Renault 25 - a car traveling salesmen would undoubtedly aspire to own.

Close your eyes, and imagine cruising through the French countryside, Minitel in hand, having restaurant-owners taste the wines you are distributing, and placing instant online orders for the wine sales you just made, thanks to your wireless Minitel set-up, before the bewildered eyes of your customer.


We recently obtained a second, similar machine -- the casing has it named "MATRACOM M05". Manufactured in 1991.

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