New submitter pays-vert writes "On Saturday, France will turn off the Minitel service. A forerunner of the world wide web, Minitel provided news, online banking and, yes, porn via a chic plug'n'play terminal. The service remained massively popular for a while even after the rise of the Internet, but ultimately has lost out to technological innovation. 'About 400,000 of the machines are still in use across the country, but perhaps most affected will be Brittany, where the devices were developed, and where many farmers still depend on them. ... Internet service spread much more slowly in France than it did elsewhere in Europe or in the United States, largely because of the popularity of the Minitel, historians say. Only around the turn of the century did the Internet come to much of this soggy western region, an expanse of green that bulges out into the Atlantic Ocean. The Minitel was hugely useful to farmers. Realizing that the devices could save time and money, local agricultural organizations developed programs for farmers to, say, track pork prices, inform the authorities of animal births and deaths, or consult the results of chemical tests on milk.'"
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