Today we’re going to talk a bit about alternate Internets. In previous episodes, we have outlined how, going back to the 1970s and 80s, early experiments with networked computing and online services began using a technology called Videotex. So, I wanted to dig deeper into these experiments to look at them as valuable precursors to the world wide web and the modern Internet. It is unlikely, for various technical reasons, that videotex could have evolved systems that could have challenged the modern TCP/IP internet as we know it, but it’s fun to explore these other systems and imagine an alternative net that might have developed. And most interestingly, to me at least, this exercise will allow us to examine Minitel, the French Videotex network that grew to prominence a full decade before the World Wide Web.
Special thanks to Laurent Bristiel @LaurentBristiel for his research assistance on this episode.