The Minitel, a French government-sponsored minicomputer that was wired into 14 million French homes at its peak in the mid-1990s, had a limited service offering, a black-and-white screen and slow connection speeds that doomed it to near-extinction in the face of the Internet.
Now, a French Internet service provider, Neuf Cegetel, has taken inspiration from the Minitel to develop a computer based on a similar low-cost model, aimed at people who are unable or unwilling to buy a computer. In a gesture to high-technology enthusiasts, however, the Easyneuf system [translation: "easy 9"] uses the open-source software beloved by many engineers and programmers.
Mark Vanderbeeken is a senior partner at Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, based in Turin, Italy. He is also the author of the successful experience design blog Putting People First. Mark is a specialist in visioning, identity development and strategic communications and worked in Italy, Denmark, the USA and Belgium. He was communications manager of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, European communications coordinator for the World Wide Fund for Nature (or WWF), marketing director of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (USA) and chief press officer of Antwerp 93, Cultural Capital of Europe (Belgium).