As per industry estimates, the global webcam market was reported to be $6.69 billion in 2020, with a projected growth rate of 8% in the next decade.
The device that has become the foremost tool for 24/7 security and remote meetings can be traced back to the pursuit of a single pot of coffee!
THE TROJAN ROOM
The story began at Cambridge University, where the coffee pot was situated in the main computer lab, known as the Trojan Room.
"One of the things that's very, very important in computer science research is a regular and dependable flow of caffeine." said, Dr Quentin Stafford Fraser, who invented the webcam along with Dr Paul Jardetzky.
THE COFFEE MONITOR
Whenever researchers came looking for coffee, they always found that it had all been drunk. To solve the problem, the two scientists set up a camera to monitor the coffee pot in 1991. The camera worked by grabbing images 3 times a minute, with software that allowed researchers in the department to run the images from the camera on their internal computer network.
MAKING IT TO THE WWW
What helped the webcam reach the World Wide Web in November 1993 was
once again, coffee.
Dr Martyn Johnson was not connected to the computer network at the Cambridge lab, so he could not run the coffee pot cam software.
He wrote a code that copied the most recent image to the requester whenever it was asked for, and thus the webcam made it to the internet!
A word about the webcam got out, and before long millions of tech enthusiasts from around the world were accessing images of the Trojan room coffee pot.
The Cambridge Tourist information office even had to direct visitors from the US to the computer lab to see it for themselves.
THE END OF COFFEE-CAM
10 Years and Millions of hits later, the scientists found that the software was becoming unmaintainable.
Despite nostalgic protests from webcam fans around the world, the coffee pot and the webcam were eventually switched off. The last image captured was the scientist's fingers pressing the 'off' button.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COFFEE POT?
The Trojan Room coffee pot was reportedly sold at auction for 3,350 euros. It was bought by Der Spiegel news magazine in Germany, which soon pressed the pot back into active services.
" In 10 years, it had gone from being a wacky new idea to a novelty that a reasonable number of people knew about, to a widely viewed icon of the early web, to a historic artefact, and then to something that people were mourning over when it was no longer there." - Dr Stafford-Fraser
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