BBS, Minitel and Videotel in 2023?

Today we explore, with Francesco Sblendorio of RetroCampus, the timeless charm of Minitels and Videotels. Let's find out how these aesthetically fascinating objects were used to connect to services, book trips, and much more, anticipating some functions that we perform today on the internet.

Subscribe my YouTube channel ValorosoIT. Retro technology, vintage audio, retro computers, experiments and tests. Retroprogramming, Basic. Commodore, IBM, Atari, Apple, Texas Instruments, Amstrad, MSX.

Francesco reveals the behind-the-scenes of the creation of his BBS and the adaptation to the Teletel protocol, used by Videotel and Minitel terminals.

I conducted this interview during Varese Retrocomputing 2023, which was held in Tradate on 17/09/2023.

Time travel with Minitel

Francesco Sblendorio allowed us to take a journey through time to the golden age of computer science: the 80s and 90s. Minitels, those charming and cute little objects, populated the French desks of the time starting in the early 80s. In the following two photos, I show you an Alcatel Minitel belonging to my collection.

Alcatel Minitel open, monitor keyboard, connect to services before internet, 80s

The Minitel's keypad can be folded by rotating it on the monitor.

Alcatel Minitel closed, 80s

Minitels support the Teletel protocol. In France, they were widespread, from the early 1980s until 2012. The reason is very simple: Minitels were provided free of charge to families and the cost for the consultation consisted of a normal phone call.

Francesco reveals how these terminals were used to connect to services, book trips, anticipating functions that we take for granted on the internet today.

Videotel in Italy

In Italy, things went a little differently. The diffusion of Videotel was rather limited, because not only was there an annual fee, but there was also a cost per page, which varied from service to service.

They were introduced in Italy in the mid-1980s, but by the 1990s they had fallen into disuse.

Videotels support both Teletel and Prestel protocols.

Videotel, Minitel, Teletel, BBS Retrocampus, 80s and 90s textual terminals

BBS: the RetroCampus experience also on Minitel and Videotel

The heart of this experience is the RetroCampus BBS, created by Francesco himself. Through it, we can relive the authentic atmosphere of those years, accessing services, chats and games. A dive into the nostalgia of the past.

The BBS can be accessed from many different types of computers, both vintage and modern. In particular, in the video, we can admire a Commodore 64, Minitel, Videotel and even a Philips Telematics.

BBS, Minitel, Videotel, BBS, RetroCampus, Commodore 64

If, previously, the BBS was only accessible using a computer, now, with the implementation of the Teletel protocol, the BBS can also be used from Videotel and Minitel terminals.

The addition of ChatGPT to the BBS

Another fascinating element of this retro adventure is the incorporation of ChatGPT into RetroCampus' BBS. The use of ChatGPT is reserved only for BBS users who are subscribers to Francesco Sblendorio's Patreon.

Varese Retrocomputing 2023, Francesco Sblendorio, ValorosoIT, supports RetroCampus BBS on Patreon

True dial-up connection, no internet

But the adventure doesn't stop there! It is now possible to connect to the RetroCampus BBS also via modem and telephone call to +39 0522750051. With devices like the Commodore 64 and Commodore 6499 modem, or even a Philips Telematics, we can relive the authentic experience of a dial-up connection.

Philips Telematics, BBS, Videotel and Minitel. Dial-up connection to POP phone number. PSTN analog line.

Are you interested in these topics?

If you want to find out more about the world of retro computers and vintage electronics, be sure to subscribe to @ValorosoIT channels. I'm on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook... in short, on all social networks.

Subscribe my YouTube channel ValorosoIT. Retro technology, vintage audio, retro computers, experiments and tests. Retroprogramming, Basic. Commodore, IBM, Atari, Apple, Texas Instruments, Amstrad, MSX.

Do you like this page? Share it:

Posted in Retro Computer, Retro Technology and Vintage Electronics, All articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *