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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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The rates depended on the service called; most services were far cheaper than this maximum.

It then paid back part of the sum to the companies operating Minitel servers.

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

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

In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free "white page" printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory.

A trial with 1,500 residential telephone customers began in Ille-et-Vilaine in May 1981.France Télécom retired the service on 30 June 2012.In 1978 France Télécom, the country's PTT, began designing the Minitel network.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.The messageries roses ("pink messages", adult chat services hosted by operators pretending to be receptive women) and other pornographic sites were also criticized for their possible access by minors.

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