Need for Coffee Ignited the Cam Craze

Jan 13, 2014|

Today everything has a cam. You can watch web cams, tower cams, traffic cams and dash cams. Lets not forget that every bank and convenience store has a surveillance cam and most large buildings and parking ramps come equipped with multiple security cams. Its hard to imagine anything taking place in today's world without some type of camera recording it for everyone to see, but did you know the simple need for coffee was a catalyst for this cam craze?

The old saying goes something like necessity is the mother of invention however in this case it might have been simple laziness that opened the worlds eyes, or lenses in this case, to the wonders of the web cam. In the early 1990s a group at Cambridge University who didnt want to waste a trip to the nearby coffeepot if it was empty created the first web cam so students, faculty and staff could view the coffee level in the pot before actually having to get up from their chair.

The coffee machine that served as the inspiration was located in a corridor just outside The Trojan Room in the computer lab at Cambridge. In 1991, after a few too many trips to an empty coffee pot, Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky invented the worlds first web cam to keep an eye on the coffee pot. The feed remained live for a decade until it was taken down in August, 2001. You can still visit the site now but you'll just find the final image acquired by the camera.

"It (the image on the screen) didn't vary very much," Dr. Stafford-Fraser told the BBC in 2012. "It was either an empty coffee pot, or a full one, or in more exciting moments, maybe a half-full coffee pot and then you'd have to try and guess if it was going up or down."

You can call this group lazy or pioneers, either way they were ahead of their time. This achievement actually pre-dates the invention of the World Wide Web by approximately two years. If anything it reinforces the notion any one will do whatever it takes to ensure a cup of coffee.


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