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To reduce opposition from newspapers worried about competition from an electronic network, they were allowed to establish the first consumer services on Minitel.

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In the late 1990s, Minitel connections were stable at 100 million a month plus 150 million online directory inquiries, in spite of growing Internet use.

In 1998, Minitel generated €832 million ($1,121 million) of revenue, of which €521 million was channelled by France Télécom to service providers.

The Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines, and is considered one of the world's most successful pre-World Wide Web online services.

The service was rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany and throughout France in 1982 by the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones; divided since 1991 between France Télécom and La Poste).

In December 1985 Minitel users made more than 22 million calls, up 400% in one year.

In 2005, there were 351 million calls for 18.5 million hours of connection, generating €206 million of revenue, of which €145 million were redistributed to 2,000 service providers (these numbers were declining at around 30% per year).

By distributing terminals that could access a nationwide electronic directory of telephone and address information, it hoped to increase use of the country's 23 million phone lines, and reduce the costs of printing printed phone books and employing directory assistance personnel.

Millions of terminals were lent for free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public.

In 1985 France Télécom earned 620 million francs (approximately million) from Minitel.

2,000 private companies earned 289 million francs (about million) during the year; Libération earned 2.5 million francs (about 0,000) from the service in September.

From its early days, users could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a similar way to what is now made possible by the Internet.

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