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Raspberry Pi to Minitel Laptop Conversion

Raspberry Pi to Minitel Laptop Conversion


In the early 1980s, through well into the 2000s, Minitel terminals were used in France to access phone directories, and even perform Internet-like functions such as making purchases and accessing message boards.

Largely unknown in most other countries, this system was revolutionary for its time, more than a decade before the World Wide Web would come to dominate online interactions.

Times change, however, and as of 2012 the system is officially retired. These interesting terminals can now be purchased at garage sales and the like.

After the initial excitement of getting one of these gems of retro computing, however, you may want to actually use it for something.

In this write-up, Gautchh shows how to convert one of these terminals into a Raspberry Pi-based Minitel Laptop. The device is capable of surfing the web, or any other function you’d expect from a Raspberry Pi, and includes a LiPo battery and charging circuitry to keep it powered up on the go.

Inside, 3D-printed parts are used to mount a new 10.4" LCD screen and driver board, while hot glue and electrical tape keep other elements in-place and electrically isolated. Besides a Raspberry Pi, the setup also includes an “Arduino” Pro Micro board to translate inputs from the Minitel keyboard into modern USB HID commands.

A neat battery power level indicator on the back shows charge levels, and the Raspberry Pi's USB ports can be accessed via a convenient hatch on the Minitel's housing.

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