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What did the first webcam monitor do?



  Trojan coffee pot with webcam
Quentin Stafford-Frasier / Wikimedia

Answer: A coffee pot

The first webcam was built like many inventions to save time. In the 1990s, the computer lab at the University of Cambridge had a rather unfavorable break room, which lecturers and students called the Trojan Room. In 1

991, Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky worked together to put an end to the frustration as they trudged through the entire building into the Trojan Room, only to find that the coffee pot was empty. Using the X Window System protocol, they wrote a client / server model that transmitted a simple low-resolution coffee pot video feed over the local area network.

Two years later, in 1993, when early web browsers used inline images, the camera setup received an upgrade. Daniel Gordon and Martyn Johnson connected the camera to the Internet through a streaming server. It began to make live shots of the coffee pot at a rate of one image per second. Although checking whether a pot of coffee was full or not may seem trivial to modern, media-savvy Internet users, the Cambridge coffee pot was one of the most visited sites on the early Internet.

The coffee cam remained online from 1993 to 2001 when the computer department moved to new facilities.


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