History of technology-based navigation by Michelin

A nice piece in the IHT about navigation systems made by Michelin. It offers an interesting historical perspective:

Although many of us have not kept up with this part of the digital age, one old-world company that has is Michelin, the French tire maker. Through a subsidiary called ViaMichelin, it has kept its ties to the motoring public with both Internet map services and computerized personal navigation systems. Â Oddly, it was an experience in the 1930s that laid the groundwork for its Internet offerings today, said Vincent Pilloy, vice president at ViaMichelin. "We had a service where people would write us a letter months ahead, and we would mail them a detailed route for their trip for free," Pilloy said. "It was a time when a 500-kilometer car trip was an adventure. It got to be so successful and so costly that the company had to stop it." Â When the Minitel, a commercial videotext network supported by the French government, came on the scene in the 1990s, Michelin gravitated its service to it. Even without graphical maps, people would pay for text descriptions of their routes, which they would then have to copy down by hand. The Minitel service still exists today. (...) ViaMichelin came into being in 2001 to amalgamate the various digital experiments and to take advantage of what the Web had to offer. Its Internet map service is free because it is supported by advertising. Â Michelin's European road maps can be found on the Internet at www.viamichelin.com. Unlike services from Internet start-ups like Mappy and Mapquest, which are great for pinpointing an address or a business, Michelin concentrates on car trips - how to get from here to there, and what services are along the way. Â In fact, by registering on the ViaMichelin site, you can tie maps to information from Michelin's Red Guide on hotels and restaurants, and Green Guides with tourist information.

Why do I blog this? I really like this service from 1930 (what I put in bold in the excerpts above).