World’s longest-running webcam going offline after 25 years

After 25 years of live broadcasting, what is thought to be the longest-running webcam in the world is finally going offline.

Students Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong installed it on the roof of a campus building at San Francisco State University in 1994.

At the time, Bill Clinton was US president, JK Rowling was years away from publishing the first Harry Potter, and there were still only three Star Wars films.

The gadget was pointed towards the frequently foggy Holloway Avenue and became known as FogCam.

FogCam seen broadcasting at 3.40am local time on 20 August 2019
Image: FogCam has been recording the scene at the university for a quarter of a century

It has streamed without much in the way of interruption for two-and-a-half decades.

But its creators, known online as Webdog and Danno, have announced that – much like the Walkman and the VHS – the time has come for it to be consigned to gadget history.

The long-running feed – found at fogcam.org – will shut down at the end of this month.

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In a tweet from the FogCam account, the pair said: “After 25 years, FogCam is shutting down forever at the end of August.

“Webdog & Danno thank our viewers and San Francisco State University for their support over the years. The internet has changed a lot since 1994, but FogCam will always have a special place in its history.”

The webcam was set up at San Francisco State University. File pic
Image: The webcam was set up at San Francisco State University. File pic

Mr Schwartz, who goes by Webdog, told local news website SFGate that he and his colleague were studying computer science when they set up the webcam, which updates every 20 seconds.

“It was just a little pet project that developed a life of its own,” he said.

“People liked it so we kept it going.

“Our webcam is a throwback to the early days of the internet when anyone could do anything.”

On why the time had come to switch it off, he said: “The bottom line is that we no longer have a really good view or place to put the camera.

DanTDM says no other game has grown like Fortnite. Pic: Youtube/ DanTDM
Image: Webcams are now widely used to broadcast video gamers online. Pic: Youtube/ DanTDM

“The university tolerates us, but they don’t really endorse us and so we have to find secure locations on our own.”

The webcam: a brief history

In 1991, the first webcam was launched by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

The device was pointed at a coffee pot in the main computer lab known as the Trojan room, with the team setting it up to keep track of how much caffeine was left.

Reminiscing on the webcam in 2012, Dr Quentin Stafford-Fraser told the BBC: “They would often turn up to get some coffee from the pot, only to find it had all been drunk.”

The coffee pot cam eventually found its way online in 1993.

The use of webcams become widespread as the quality improved and they became cheaper, allowing people the novelty of making their first Skype video call, or filming their video game exploits.

The now ubiquitous front-facing smartphone camera is somewhat of an evolution of the concept, thanks to apps like FaceTime.

Source: SKY NEWS

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