Everyone knows what a webcam is, and practically every laptop has one these days. Webcams have revolutionised the way people communicate, allowing an additional depth to a long distant conversation. But like many things, have you ever wondered how or why they were invented? Well, the truth behind this particular invention is rather quirky, and a little lazy.
Most inventions throughout time have come about as a way to make life easier or better. Sometimes the intended purpose of the invention loses out and another use of the item takes its place. The webcam was invented to make life just that little bit easier, at least for those who invented it.
At the University of Cambridge, in the old computer laboratory, there is a room called the Trojan room, and in the corridor just outside that room there was a coffee pot. In 1991, the university installed a camera to monitor the coffee pot that was connected to every computer in the building via a local network. The reason? The webcam was setup to monitor the coffee pot to save people making pointless trips to it if it was empty. The first webcam was actually developed because people were too lazy to walk to a coffee pot.
In 1993, when web browsers gained the ability to display images, the webcam was connected to the internet where it quickly gained a cult following. It was disconnected in 2001 when the computer department moved to new premises. The coffee pot was later sold for £3,350 on ebay to Spiegel online where it was refurbished and put back into use.
The Trojan room coffee pot was spoofed in the 2002 video game, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. In the graveyard shift mission you could cause distraction by destroying a coffee camera in the kitchen.