Remembering Telstra’s Viatel

With the news that France’s Minitel network is to be switched off this weekend I was prompted to recall Telstra’s (or Telecom Australia’s) version of this proto-internet. Back when we were looking to get a replacement for our Multitech (now Acer) MPF-II computer Dad brought home a brochure on the Telecom Australia’s Viatel system.

This videotex system used a dedicated terminal to retrieve and submit information over the telephone network. To a kid who had read books like Ender’s Game and feeling very isolated in rural Queensland access to online databases and information resources sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, it was too expensive to consider and we ended up with a Amstrad CPC 6128.

I was not to get home network access until 1993 when, while at university, I bought a 2400 baud modem for my 386SX PC. But that is another story…

You can read a lot more about Viatel at Peter Hosie’s Promises, promises – Viatel and education, written back in 1985.

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