Phone cards

Data cards of the kind below started being experimented with in the seventies. In 1984, mass production began on pre-paid phone cards based on Roland Moreno's chip (the same technology found in SIM cards.) These were used to make calls from public telephones, use public Minitels available at the post office, and later could be inserted directly into home Minitels (see our Magis Minitel in the Machines section of this site.)

Starting in 1986, these "telecartes" started bearing advertisements for all sorts of products. France Telecom sold telecartes that displayed its own ads. Below is a collection of telecartes bearing advertisements for various Minitel sites and services.


Above is an ad for Minicom, France Telecom-run email service. Below is another version of the same ad.



Above is an advertisement for France Telecom's online customer service, available 24/7 through Minitel. Below is another ad for the same service.



Above and below are ads for new Minitel terminals, available for purchase or lease from France Telecom. Above is the Magis terminal and below is the Sillage Minitel which combines a phone and answering machine with a Minitel terminal.




Before there was Ask Jeeves, there was "le 11," France Telecom's yellow pages. On the above card from June 1996 (front and back), the lady states: "On 'le 11,' I typed 'Who can organize my reception' ... well darling, 'le 11' immediately gave me the contact info of all the local catering companies. Awesome, isn't it? 'Le 11," it speaks the same language as you and I."

On the below card, the old lady is having a hilarious time searching the yellow pages. The parrot she found online seems to be too noisy ... she will now look for a goldfish store.


Below (front and back) is Julien's first telecarte, found on the ground at his junior high school in Paris, circa 1986 or 1987. Upon finding it, Julien got very excited at the prospect of calling the world with it. As it turned out, however, all of the card's credit had already been used. Because the card bears no ad, we know it was produced between 1984 and 1986. The back indicates that this particular card was #35 of the series.