In case you don’t know the Minitel was an astonishing French Video Teletext network system with terminals all over the country. As a pre-internet system, it stayed in popular usage for many years, booking travel tickets, and disseminating news for many years (in fact up until 2012). The Minitel terminals therefore are prime targets for hardware hackers and tinkerers. The Miniplay is an incredible development of a game cartridge for compatible Minitels!
Built around a DIN plug, these satisfying circular cartridges contain a familiar ATmega328p which uses a hardware serial connection to talk to the Minitel. There isn’t any USB on board, but the ISP header is broken out, so connecting this up to the Arduino IDE is pretty trivial. “Videotex” games can then be developed and there are a couple of example games over in the project repository. Also in the repository is some useful information about the compatibility of Minitel terminals as some don’t have the correct power supply to the DIN connector. However, don’t fear; if you happen to have an incompatible Minitel there are workarounds to power the cartridge from an external source.
Finally, we’re struck by just how pleasing a cylindrical cartridge with a DIN connector is. We can’t think of any other systems that have used this form factor but we think perhaps more should! We hope to see a community build up around these Minitel terminals, creating new games and breathing new life into this awesome vintage hardware.