Coffee watching

I knew coffee was important but I didn’t know it was THAT important. The first webcam was created in 1991 and it was located in a computer lab at the University of Cambridge. Its only purpose was to film a COFFEE POT so that lab users would not make unnecessary trips to where the coffee pot was situated.

Nowadays, a webcam serves bigger purposes such as video chatting, home security and live streaming and to find out that the initial purpose of the webcam was not any of the above, I was a bit taken by surprise.Creating a webcam just for filming a coffee pot is being lazy in an ingenious way. Or more likely, they were extremely busy and couldn’t afford to waste time checking if coffee was ready. Anyhow, I believe trips to the coffee pot could have been well-deserved breaks for the lab users.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for this invention because I am able to talk to friends and family who live in a different country but the reason of the webcam invention is still surprising.

This is the coffee pot seen through the first webcam:



P.S. If you want to read more interesting facts about the history of the Internet the article can be found here




  1. I find this fact particularly interesting, as it shows how internet innovations such as the webcam, which were created for something so small as to prevent trips to the coffee machine, have been found to have bigger purpose than their creators thought possible. For example, this week I talked to my 91 year old grandfather by way of webcam, a first time experience for him, who lives almost 4,000 miles away in Boston. It’s quite funny how something which so many millions of people now reply upon to connect with loved ones around the world, a resource which is considered invaluable, was created to prevent laboratory workers from having to get up from their desks.


  2. I didn’t know that and I find it very funny. As ginaagallagher said in the first comment, this particular fact shows how some (sometimes apparently useless) innovations can lead to an infinite number of purposes. Another example can be the Internet itself (which was not useless at all of course). It started being a communication method between the soldiers during the Cold War, and now we’re here.


  3. That’s so interesting! After reading this I myself did a little digging on the subject and found that it took computer scientists only 3 years to make the technology commercially available in 1994. The very first commercially available webcam was named QuickCam and was produced by an American company Connectix. The webcam was initially sold for $100, which is a relatively low cost for the first release of such revolutionary technology.


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