MiNiTeL. cOuLd It bE?

It was a breezy autumn morning in Boston, Massachusetts. The year was 1983 and thirteen-year-old Amanda is just waking up to the bit of sunshine that was peeking out behind her curtains. Not long after, her alarm rang at 7:00am, causing her to turn off the loud alarm and get up from bed. It was Thursday, a school day, meaning that she needs to be out the door to catch the bus by 7:45am. So, she gets up, goes to the bathroom to wash up and puts on a worn pair of blue jeans, and pairs it with her favorite black sweater with a rose patch in the left corner and black vans. She quickly ties her hair up in a high ponytail and puts on her glasses.

Amanda is not your typical teenage girl because unlike the other girls at her school who love the color pink, and are interested in being popular and love dressing up, Amanda cared more about computers. Not that she still didn’t have to deal with the trials that came with being a teenager, which were puberty and caring way too much about what other people thought of her. She just chose to spend more time understanding computers than experimenting with makeup on her face. The late 1970s marked a historical time for technology as BBSs were introduced and rapidly growing in its users each day. Amanda begged her parents for a BBSs terminal and when she finally got it for her twelfth birthday, there was no going back in Amanda’s curiosity of computers and the wonders of online networks.

Now, before heading downstairs, Amanda decides to sit at her BBS terminal that is by the window, and starts exploring the different bulletin boards to find new ones that were of interest to her. By this time, it is already 7:31am when she gets a message from a chat room that she was interacting in the night before. The username johnny627 sent her message that stated, “Check out this new legendary network” with a link attached. Amanda clicks on the link and it led to newspaper article describing Minitel, the new online service through telephone lines in France, that was for private innovation, but on a public platform.

This discovery of the Minitel amazed Amanda and imagined how this service could be adapted to the lives of millions in the United States. Amanda anticipated for the day to come, however, it never did.

The year now is 2027, Amanda is now 57 and after living in France for 14 years since 1988, learning and understanding Minitel, came back to the United States to settle down her family in Boston, Massachusetts. Ever since the day she first learned about the Minitel when she was thirteen-years-old, in her family home in Boston, she wanted to bring Minitel to the United States. So, when she turned eighteen-years-old, she moved to France to see Minitel up close, to see how it worked. Amanda worked closely with France Télécom and with a private online services company in the U.S. called MAX. After years and years of gaining knowledge about Minitel as it transformed from only providing an online telephone directory to a variety of services, a very popular one being Minitel rose, and working with MAX to bring it to the U.S., Minitel was introduced in 2002.

MAX introduced Minitel as a privately innovated service that would be used on a public platform, as it was in France, except there was more state ownership. The U.S. government had more control in regulating the service for security reasons, while still maintaining the privacy and freedom of the users. As more services were created and added to Minitel, more creators and users, the government steadily enacted legislation that balanced the regulation of the government with the users’ freedom and privacy. The line that seemed like it was always going to remain blurred between privacy and safety, continued to be in balance as the technology of the Minitel advanced.

Although the Web and AOL proved to be prominent competitors to Minitel, after a few years, they couldn't compete with all that Minitel had to offer. These two services, and others like it, did continue to grow, but didn't experience as rapid of a growth as Minitel in the number of users. Minitel was the only online service that maintained a balanced and positive relationship with the government that not only changed the way people approached computers, but their whole lives.

Similar to how easy-to-use the Minitel was in France; it was easy for people from all different socio-economic backgrounds and skills to use this service. Minitel brought the people in the United States together.There no longer was crime, no invasion of privacy through the Internet or in physical homes. Relations between the people and the government weren’t hostile anymore, but rather peaceful and overall, good. Everyone in the United States could live their lives in relation with one another without fear that they will be harmed or violated. This all came to be through Minitel being brought to the U.S. by Amanda’s dedication to facilitating this balance of freedom and privacy.

After moving to the U.S., Amanda started to work as the communications liaison between MAX and the federal government. Everyday Amanda works out of the MAX headquarters office in Boston and uses the message boards through Minitel in order to communicate with government officials in updating them on the successes of Minitel. She also works closely with senators and representatives in helping them to create legislation that made sure to monitor any sort of harmful and negative contributions of the users and instead of imprisoning people, those kinds of users were penalized by limiting their access to the services of Minitel. Amanda uses the latest Minitel service, the hologram feature, to be able to project her holographical visual of herself through the screen that is in located in the office of the federal government in Washington D.C.

Although it would have been anticipated that other private organizations would create similar online services network like Minitel, the success of Minitel stemming from a bonded relationship between the government and MAX has made it impossible for other networks to be successful. However, with the success and expansion of Minitel services, more jobs were created, rapidly growing the U.S. economy.

Next, after working at the MAX headquarters office, Amanda normally heads back home to be with her husband, Charles, and three kids, Henry, Jessica and Mathew. They have dinner and afterwards, they sit together in front of their 35-inch screen television that is connected to their computer to connect with another family that lives abroad, whether it be France, Denmark or another country, and play family games virtually. Amanda and her family use Minitel in order to connect with other families, which is the hologram service that she also uses in her office at MAX. Through the television, they are able to have live holographical visuals of their family projected onto the screen of the family that they are connecting with abroad.

Minitel in the United States is a part of every single Americans’ life. It has changed the way that Americans interact with each other, ultimately creating a society that is positively reinforced by technology. Through Minitel largely being regulated by the government with high regard to individuals’ privacy, the United States is a safer and happier place for Amanda and her family, and the other millions of people that reside in the United States.

Minitel made America… and different. And it will continue to be.

What about the rest of world? Well, next on Amanda's agenda is expanding Minitel to be a global online serivce, starting with Asia. With plans to launch Minitel in South Korea and Japan first in 2028, Amanda hopes that Minitel will grow exponentially first in these countries before spreading to other countries around the globe as it did in the United States.

--- Hoos Neocities.