YouTube Like It’s 1970s France With This Minitel-VCR Mashup

When it’s not just sticking fake gears on things and calling it a day, the Steampunk look is pretty cool. Imagining technology in a world stuck with Victorian aesthetics is a neat idea, and one that translates to the look of other time periods — Fallout, anyone?

But what if you try to create a technological aesthetic based on a more recent and less celebrated time? That’s what [ghettobastler] has attempted with this somewhat bizarre Minitel-YouTube-VCR mash-up. Taking inspiration from a webcomic’s take on “Formicapunk,” modern tech based on the aesthetic of the wildly successful French videotex service of the 70s and 80s, the system uses a very cool Minitel 1B terminal and a Raspberry Pi 3.

A custom level-shifter for the Pi

With the help of a level-shifting circuit, the Mintel and the Pi talk over serial, allowing the terminal to be used as, well, a terminal for the Pi. Videos are downloaded from YouTube by the Pi, which sends the video to the VCR from its composite output, and controls the VCR with an IR LED that emulates the original remote. Come to think of it, just watch the video below — it’s probably easier than trying to describe it.

It’s weird, true, but we love the look of that Minitel terminal. Something about it just screams cyberdeck; if anyone has a spare one of these, get busy and put something together for our Cyberdeck Design Contest.

10 thoughts on “YouTube Like It’s 1970s France With This Minitel-VCR Mashup

      1. There’s shag carpet, to be sure.

        Shagging is also known in the US. Shagging on a shag carpet was a thing.

        “Shagpunk” captures the 1970s quite well, I think.

        Just search for “shaggin wagon” and you’ll know what I mean

  1. I think you mean “Youtube like it’s the 1980s”… VCR’s may have been invented in the mid 1970s but both of the VCRs in that video are late 1980s models. I should know, my parents bought one of those two in the video when I was a kid.

    1. Or 90s, maybe? 80s VCRs didn’t look that cheap/lightweight/round, afaik.
      Our 80s VCR was boxy, made from real metal, not just cheap aluminium.
      Also had the green triangle symbol on the “play” button, as found on cassette recorders/CD players..

      1. On a second thought, maybe yours was from ’89 or late ’88?
        That could still be possible, judging by the looks.

        Also, different countries had different perception of time.
        In some places, the 80s culture/lifestyle lasted longer, well into the mid-90s.
        An in other places, like Japan, the 90s had already arrived in the 1980s.

        Because, as we know, the Japanese were always ~10 years ahead (technological, at least). ;)

        Another thing, speaking of design:
        In the 80s, France had an odd taste of fashion in terms of computing. IMHO.
        Their home computers, Thomson TO7, TO7-70, TO8 etc all had that gray/silver/flat console look. A bit like the American TI 99/4 series, don’t know how to explain properly.
        It looked very slick and modern for its time, but also strangely dated simultaneously.

    2. These VCRs are very late very cheap 90s/early 00s models, but why even bother? You could still Youtube like it’s the 70s by using an era appropriate VCR (and terminal). Although none of my 70s VCRs have remote capability (apart from Camera Pause and that goes CLUNK! when engaged) and I don’t have terminals from the 70s although I do have a few computers from the 70s.
      I’d probably complain more about the use of a decidedly-not-period-correct TV the video is watched on.

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