Sat, Aug 18, 2012 - Page 10 News List

French bid ‘adieu’ to Minitel, the France-Wide Web
法國人向法國的網路先驅Minitel道別

This file photo taken in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France in 1979 shows a woman posing next to a Minitel prototype.
這張一九七九年攝於法國巴黎近郊西蕾穆靈諾的資料照片,是一位女士與一台Minitel原始機型的合照。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

France recently pulled the plug on the Minitel, a home-grown precursor of the Internet that brought online banking, travel reservations and even sex chats to millions a decade before the World Wide Web.

In a country where resistance to all things “Anglo-Saxon” runs deep, the Minitel evokes both pride at French technological prowess and regret that the country failed to capitalize on the commercial online network, launched in 1982.

By its peak in the late 1990s, some 25 million people in France were using Minitel’s 26,000 services, ranging from checking the weather to buying clothes and booking train tickets.

Originally designed by France Telecom as an online directory to save paper, the Minitel was a drab, box-like terminal with a keyboard that used ordinary telephone lines to transmit information.

But like France’s national pop icon Johnny Hallyday — once dubbed “the greatest rock star no-one has ever heard of” — the Minitel never caught on outside the country.

For the mushroom-colored box, however, this is not the end of the road. Some 90 percent of the terminals will be recycled in southwest France, with their plastic casing turned into car bumpers and metals reclaimed from the electronic components.

(Liberty Times)

法國最近終止了Minitel服務,這種由法國自行發展的網路前身早在網際網路出現十年前,就為數百萬法國民眾提供了線上金融、旅遊訂位,甚至性愛聊天室等服務。

在這個對所有「盎格魯.薩克遜」事物都抱持根深柢固抗拒感的國家,Minitel既激起了法國人對本國科技非凡成就的驕傲,同時也對法國未能把握機會善用這種在一九八二年推出的商業連線網路感到遺憾。

在一九九○年代晚期的巔峰時期,法國有高達兩千五百萬人使用Minitel的兩萬六千項服務,包括查詢天氣到購買衣物及訂火車票等。

法國電信公司原本設計這種線上工商目錄系統的目的是要節省紙張,Minitel是一種黃褐色、外形像盒子、附有鍵盤的終端機,使用普通的電話線來傳送訊息。

但正如法國的流行音樂天王強尼.阿力戴一樣,他曾被稱為「沒人聽過的最偉大搖滾巨星」,Minitel在法國以外地區也從未流行起來。

不過對於這種蘑菇色的方盒子而言,這並非窮途末路。有百分之九十的終端機將被送到法國西南部進行資源回收,塑膠外殼會被再製為汽車的保險桿,並從電子零件中回收金屬。

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. capitalize on v. phr.

善用 (shan4 yuan4)

例: She capitalized on her knowledge and experience to get a new and better paid job.

(她善用知識與經驗,獲得薪水更高的新工作。)

2. catch on v. phr.

變得流行 (bian4 de2 liu2 xing2)

例: I wonder if the game will ever catch on with young people?

(我想知道這種遊戲到底會不會在年輕人間流行起來?)

3. the end of the road n. phr.

窮途末路;到此為止 (qiong2 tu2 mo4 lu4; dao4 ci3 wei2 zhi3)

例: A loss in the primary elections will mean the end of the road for his campaign.

(輸掉初選表示他的競選之路將到此為止。)


(自由時報/翻譯:俞智敏)

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