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First Ever Webcam to Come Offline 91

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the the-end-of-an-era dept.
sidetrack writes: "According to an article in The Times, Cambridge University Computer Laboratory's famous coffee pot camera - allegedly the world's first web cam (indeed, it predated the web by a few years in its original form) is to be retired, when the department moves to a new building. I think I remember looking at this some time in '95 - a piece of internet history that really should be saved, IMHO ;-)." Bits and pieces of history guys. It frightens me to realize that all this stuff we thought was so cool just a few years ago is now part of the net's history and lore. Tell your grandkids that you were there when...
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First Ever Webcam to Coming Offline

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  • '95? Pah, youngster.
  • It frightens me to realize that all this stuff we thought was so cool just a few years ago is now part of the net's history and lore. Tell your grandkids that you were there when...

    ...when Windows 2015 wasn't just another linux distribution,but with a better web browser (it can't be unbundled, or it stops working).

  • Yes, this once proud insitution is showing signs of decay. They are moving to a new building - which sounds good, except that they will no longer have coffee. This is a true shame, because without coffee, people don't code. Without code, you don't have a CS department, and without a CS department, well......

    Someone should start an online petition to make sure that not only does the coffee stay in Cambridge computing, but that the web-cam stays up to so that those of us around the world can have supreme confidence in the coding abilities of those stationed at Cambridge.
  • by jonesvery (121897) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @06:05AM (#379194) Homepage Journal
    Its not cool, its boring and more than a little bit sad. Wow, a picture of a coffee machine! Err , and? Who the hell cares? Would anyone sit and watch a CCTV picture of a coffee machine?

    Well, that seems like the point...
    Would I sit at my desk today, staring at a picture of a coffee pot? No. Did I, in 1994 or 95, find myself really struck by the fact that a cheap little Mac was showing me (almost) real-time images from England? Yes, I did.

    Was I, after watching the coffee pot for a while, happy to realize there were people all over the world who were interested in what you could do with these machines, and didn't care whether the end result was "important" or not? Absolutely!

    Did I then spend too much time visiting the Web-enabled refrigerator [hamjudo.com], the site that let you display messages on an LED board, the Abductalizer [alienabductions.com], and Web cams in a wide variety of uninteresting places? Well...yes. And I'll admit, that part was a little pathetic.

    Oh, well. I for one will be sorry to see the coffee pot go...

    * * *

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In the interest of fairness, he did cough up the money. It's well within Mr. Torvalds's (or whomever's) rights to use some of those Transmeta millions (thousands?) to do the same. I can understand your dislike for the man, but I can't understand your rationale for opposition.
  • I remember a lot of web sites that were derided as complete garbage - the ones that first showed live motion video, or message boards, or animations, etc.

    I've been following the useless pages [go2net.com] for years now. It captures the spirit of the net far better than a dozen Gartner analysts thrown in a bin. Check out the history, and all the old stuff. I wish someone would archive all these things that are REALLY important, before they disappear.

    The first popular use of printing was to cater to porn or astrology. It's pathetic the way mainstream media journalists heap scorn on new things appearing on the net, and then desperately try to catch on and "get it".

    Save it before it goes.

    w/m
  • The first exposure I had to the Internet was when I bought the first edition "Internet Starter Kit" in 1992 or so. It had a grand total of three pages about the web. It came with a free (for thirty or ninty days) ISP account, but the dial-up was in Seattle (I lived in San Francisco). I reemberng "fingering" the CSU Coke machine and being instantly amazed. I saw the coffee cam back then too, but I don't remember if it was a seperate application, or on the web.
  • Such a historic monument should be preserved. At the VERY least, in a technical museum.
  • by Webmoth (75878) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @07:42AM (#379200) Homepage
    With the move to the new building, the CUCL will probably (finally) get to have their very own coffee pot within their department. Hence, when Mr. Coder gets thirsty (or needs a jolt to get the neurons moving), all he has to do is glance over his shoulder to the counter and see that yes, indeed, there is coffee to be had. No more checking up on the web to prevent a wasted trip to an empty pot. Simply put, there is no need for the CoffeeCam anymore. Plus, the CoffeeCam obviously requires occasional, perhaps even often, maintenance; time which could be better spent advancing "the cause" (whatever that may be).

    Certainly, CUCL could place a new cam on this new coffe pot, but it wouldn't be the same. Why not? Because the purpose, the whole reason for its existence, will be a farce. It won't exist to ease the lives of coders, but to sate the curiosity of Internet hitchikers who have nothing better to do than waste the precious bandwidth of an already-taxed not-for-profit organization of higher education.

    That said, CUCL should have a CoffeeCam history page, explaining what it was, why it was, and why it is no more. This for the sake of posterity and public record.
  • No banner ads but theres still about 6 cups left if you hurry.
  • I remember visiting this site way back when too. It is certainly a peice of internet history.

    If no one else is going to do it, Slashdot should make it's own timeline of the internet with all the "really important" happenings on it.

  • by mholve (1101) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @07:48AM (#379203) Homepage
    One of the first Linux quickcams [eunuchs.org] is still up and running (more or less) since 1994 and the page describes a good deal about how to do it.
  • This gets left at a 1, where my joke about webcams was modded up to a 2, then down to 0 and called offtopic? WTF? Wake up, mods.
  • by dePi (143377) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @07:53AM (#379205) Homepage
    I went to inspect "The Really Big Button That Doesn't Do Anything" only to find it does do something. It refreshes the page. Now they have to rename the site to "The Really Big Button That Does ONE Thing" or possibly "The Really Big Button That We Told People Did Nothing, But In Fact Does And Always Has Done Something"
  • I think he was referring to using his own computer (a cheap little Mac) to access the Archimedes with the coffee pot.

  • While not everyone is quick to admit it, these two ancient webcam 'portals' if you will are an important part of Internet and technology history. Therefore, I think it would be a wise (and kinda cool!) idea to preserve both these great webcams by permanently hosting them at one of the various computer museums around the world. For example, here in San Diego, California the tech school Colman College has a very extensive and interesting computer museum, which I believe has been slashdotted for its "most infuential people in technology" awards.
    -----------------------------------------
  • It was in fact Babbage who attached a refluxing "hot beverage apparatus" using hand crafted "Ada" code to interface to the Difference Engine (TM) to transmit coffee availability to remote sites using the British Navy optical semaphore network. It is of course worthy of note that all Babbage's engines had many cams. It is also noted by the IEEE http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/websights/web 07-10-00.html that the ZX81 was the first (and British) computer to be designed to survive coffee being spilt over it -- not so, both the Analytic amd Difference Engines where SPECIFICALLY designed in brass to withstand the application of hot and corrosive liguids by enemy insurgents. Other fascinating insites into the technology of the time include: submarine control http://www.granta.demon.co.uk/cf/cf7.html; steamn modems (from Iowa? shum mhistake shurely), http://ground.ecn.uiowa.edu/apple2/Collections/AOL /Hardware.Libraries/AHW.081594; coding examples, http://www.allafrica.co.za/archives/001113.htm. For Great Justice, Eric.
  • It doesn't refresh the page. Unless you have your cache turned off.
  • IE doesn't support it. Go figure.

    (in case you're wondering, I found out when a friend was setting up a webcam... It had to have 2 different apps to run the netscape and non-netscape servers...)
  • Back in the good old days, it didn't refresh the page. You kids today, with your fancy browsers and...
  • You have no chance to survive drink your coffee.
  • Back in it's day, this was truly a clever hack. I mean, setting up a camera on the communal coffee pot rocks; you don't have to drag your butt halfway across the building just to find an empty coffee pot.

    Reminds me of the (even older, I believe) CMU Coke Machine [cmu.edu]. As far back as 1982 they had a finger interface [cmu.edu] set up to check the status of the Coke machine on the 3rd floor of Wean hall. The machine could tell you not only which buttons currently had soda, but how relatively cold they were based on when sodas had been dispensed out of each column. Unfortunately it looks like they're in the process of moving the machine right now, but it certainly was convenient back in the day.

  • by micromoog (206608) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:18AM (#379214)
    Ctrl-Alt-F. It works with Netscape 4.0 and later, and Mozilla.
  • The poor little web server is going HAVE to go down now that you've slashdotted the hell out of it. =(
  • ...visiting my Father who was an equivalent of a guest professor over there at the time, I saw Steven Hawking, but went right past him to touch this beloved Coffee Pot that has shaped our lives so much. I could explain more but is it really that necessary?
  • by DrPsycho (13308) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:19AM (#379217) Homepage
    Clarification!

    "First Ever Webcam" to Come Offline.
    not
    First Ever "Webcam To Come Offline."

    Besides, I liked the original headline: "First Ever Webcam to Coming Offline." Heh. I think this whole "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" craziness might be having an unanticpated adverse effect on the already languishing grammar of the 'Net.

    I, for one, will mourn the loss of the coffee cam, not for lack of other stupid things to look at on the Internet, but for its role as an innovator. Doing something not because it's particularly earth shattering or useful, but just because you can. Geek chic!

    --- [DrPsycho [zombo.com]] Coping with reality since 1975.

  • I just hope people washed it from time to time, cause coffee made in a machine that wasn't cleaned up for 5 years can taste somewhat funny.
  • Its still Cambridge and Mr. Gates gave them over 100 million dollars recently. Don't be to hard on his philanthropic tendancys. Who ares if they name it after him if they get a a really nice and really needed new facility.
  • No, the problem with the old building was (is) that is was in a tower that was fairly tall and thin, so lots of stair-climbing was required. The new building is nice and flat (3 fairly large floors) in West Cambridge [cam.ac.uk].

    However, as someone pointed out, it is The William Gates Building. Microsoft Research were going to take the top floor, but have now decided, due to expansion, that they need their own building next door.

    The original plans were quite fun, as the MS Research and Computer Lab parts of the building were completely separated by card-only doors...

  • but it's down for "lounge construction".

    When will the horror end? :)

  • by dePi (143377)
    It is sad the first web cam will go offline. And even sadder the X amount of web cams that every person and their dog (literally) have up aren't following suit.
  • > It works with Netscape 4.0 and later, and Mozilla.

    I just tried it on Netscape 1.1 and it worked too.

    Yes, I still actively use Netscape 1.1, although not interactively. I use it for monitoring the health of a remote server by pointing it to an auto-refreshing status page.
    --

  • HyperCard......thats been around a while, is it still just mac?
  • Coffee pot and all. It is a piece of history isnt it?

    RA7
    -
  • by techmuse (160085) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @06:56AM (#379226)
    I believe the webcams at MIT's TNS research group [mit.edu] may have been first. I seem to remember viewing the TNS people remotely in 94, but you may want to double check on that. The TNS Technology Demonstrations [mit.edu] page has been up for many many years.
  • It's still usable on a Mac, but hasn't been updated in more than 5 years or so...There is an alternative named SuperCard, that I believe is cross-platform.

  • by Croaker (10633) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @08:19AM (#379228)

    I mean, setting up a camera on the communal coffee pot rocks; you don't have to drag your butt halfway across the building to just to find an empty coffee pot.



    This could mean that coffee would never be made, though... If everyone can see that the coffee pot was empty, then no one would want to be the one to schlep down to the pot, start a new pot brewing and wait around for it to finish. Everyone would wait for everyone else to do it. All productive work would stop. Everyone would just watch the damn coffee pot...



    Now, if you could get a more sophisticated cam, one that would snap a picture of the rotten bastard who took the last cup without starting a new pot... now that would be progress...

  • Axis [axis.com] uses this method to present video from their camera. It works in netscape (and Mozilla) and in IE for mac, but not in IE for Windows.
  • I actually saw them make coffee in that pot once. (It tasted very bad) I wonder if they ever thought about cleaning it.?
  • I was just finishing my undergrad days there when this thing went live (on the LAN, not the web - does that date me :-)

    These technology demonstrators may seem trite to the unititiated eye, but every new research area starts with baby steps.

    Pointing it at the coffee pot was a bit of a joke, the entire distance from the CL tower through to the Cockcroft building is only 50 to 100 yards - research people are allowed to have fun too!

  • Is the infamous Toilet Cam. (Yes, I know it was fake. That's part of the charm.)
  • Did anyone ever catch someone's hand in the picture grabbing the coffee pot? I must have visited the site 1000 times and I never saw it happen. It was either light or dark, that's about it, never any action shots. What a sad life I lead.
  • by Jenova (27902) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:01AM (#379234)
    The first coffee port in the world to get slashdotted!
  • I lost it all in the tech wreck? I had great upside till I got downsized? There's no telling what I'll be telling my grandkids, if I ever have any. it'll all sound so horse-and-buggy to them anyway. How come there's no copy editor Barbie doll?
  • When will we see the headline, "Slashdot Grammar Checker To Coming Online"?

  • by bjb (3050) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:02AM (#379237) Homepage Journal
    The two earliest 'cam's that I knew of were the Coffee Cam and the Fish Cam [netscape.com]. I think there even used to be a hidden key sequence in Netscape to bring the Fish Cam up (something like Alt-Ctrl-Shift-F). If I remember correctly, the first ones were simply pages with Meta Refresh statements in them, and then once Netscape 1.1 came out (supported animated GIFs), they started doing things that way.

    Ahh, but that was years ago. Funny, that's only about 7 years ago, but it still feels like an eternity (in internet time, at least).

    --

  • When will we see the headline, "Slashdot Grammar Checker To Coming Online"?
    Now that would be something to tell your grand-children about...

  • The only new CompSci building at the Uni I know of, is the one next to my department (Physics). But it gives me the creeps to tell what it is called, and by whom it has been sponsored.

    William Gates Building. No kidding.

    --

  • by riggwelter (84180) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:03AM (#379240) Homepage Journal
    This is such big news it was mentioned on the BBC's Breakfast News programme this morning!

    Jeremy Bowen read out the URL so that people could see while it's still there, and nearly ran out of breath! How good it is that a legend like CoffeeCam (ahem) hasn't gone the way of the rest of the web, and will in fact reture without having registered a domain...

    www.coffeecam.org anyone?

    --
  • . . . they took freedom of speech away from the Internet.


    ------

  • When will we see the headline, "Slashdot Grammar Checker To Coming Online"?

    Probably when people complaining about grammar mistakes will start to check their own spelling.

    --

  • If I remember correctly, the first ones were simply pages with Meta Refresh statements in them

    Firstly, I'm not sure that meta tags had been invented then, and secondly, you originally used to view the coffee pot using the 'xcoffee' application which used the video grabbing and streaming stuff that Cambridge Uni and Olivetti Research were playing about with at the time.

    Ah, those were the days... ;-)

  • I remember looking at that cam also in the early days of HTML, when there were no such thing as a "Microsoft Internet Explorer"(as m$ didn't believe in the internet then).
    I decided to make my own webcam then using a old black and white survailence camera and and a very expensive framegrabber card on ISA bus. The card was slow and drivers where almost nonexistent, but the documentation for the hardware was good and I was a little hardware hacker at the time so somehow I got it working. (btw. I just saw my old boss at a party and we talked about just how I convinced him to spend money on it since it was paid by the company and it provided no serios use for them whatsoever :-) )
    Anyway, I wrote all the programming for it myself as there were no webcam software available. It was the first webcam in Denmark, and I had up to 1000 visitors pr day(in 1996, which I think was pretty good at the time for a personal homepage. The cam has been online since about 96(I think) in many different setups.
    The first setup was a coffeecam much like the original except that I also made a small browser in visual basic so that I had a small resizable window. Version 2 of my coffeecam included a switch on the coffeemachine that would be triggered when someone took some coffee, the pc that grabbed the pictures would then store pictures of the times when people took coffee so we could see who took the last drop without putting on a new batch. :-)
    Today my camera is a old Connectix Quickcam(on parallel port) on a server running FreeBSD.
    My camera is available on the web [www.rud.dk] most of the time as well on your WAP phone on wap.rud.dk. I really don't know why I am running the camera today(and must admit that I forgot to plug it in yesterday when I moved the server around) but at least there is something that gets updated on my site. :-) It also generate a MPEG movie of all the pictures taken the day before(I still need to activate the cronjobs for my shellscript for that, hmm). All the programs I use for it, are the ones that comes with your FreeBSD CD both for the wap version as well as the mpeg movie generation, kinda neat. The old version in 1996 also did this, only it made a avi file(if I remember correctly) and it was a that time made wich som DOS applications(no not windooze, real DOS).
    The downside of using a old parallel port cam is that is uses too much CPU time(100% in 4 seconds for 1 picture) so the cronjobs that takes the picure only runs every 5 minutes because I don't want to waste cpu time on it.
    Oh well, I must be going home from work now, so that I can get home and read /.
    hmm
    --------
  • I can get to the web page but I can't view the
    picture of the coffe pot. Too much traffic I
    suspect. Reliabilty of service or the lack of
    continues to be major issue with the Web (servers
    and Internet connectivity included).

    As for Banner Ad's, I don't see any (thanks to
    filtering software such as AdSubtract).
  • Agreed.

    The TRCM was the first website I ever visited in 1993. Using Mosaic. In Edinburgh.
    That was fun.
    ~Tim
    --
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • I know it is the first webcam and all, but if you are thousands of miles from the pot why the hell do you care if it is full or not. Oh what a tragic loss (he says sarcastically)
  • The coffee pot went missing quite a while ago. Documented at http://ban.joh.cam.ac.uk/~ajp38/science/trojan/Cof fee.htm [cam.ac.uk]
  • I think the original FishCam fish tank belonged to Lou Montoulli (of Lynx and early Netscape)...
  • Would this be an updated version of the old (imo old, by that I mean from 1995 or something like that) "Useless Pages" site?

    I've found it probable that the URL for the useless pages page I'm thinking of was "http://www.primus.com/staff/paulp/useless.html" but it isn't there anymore. =/

    Anyone know?... anyone have any mirrors/anything of the original site?

    --
  • Did I, in 1994 or 95, find myself really struck by the fact that a cheap little Mac was showing me (almost) real-time images from England?

    Except it runs of an Archimedes, not a Mac.

  • Simple 'nuff...Have the coffee cam server archive photos for the last 24 hours. That'll catch the dastardly fiend who is shirking his community responsibility
  • Pepsi is signing quite a few contracts w/other Universities to do just that (well, machines off campuses)

    might as well cut the backbone ;)
  • Ctrl-Alt-F. It works with Netscape 4.0 and later, and Mozilla.

    I thought it was gone; it doesn't work on my SPARC Solaris 4.76 version of Netscape...

    --

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:31AM (#379256) Homepage
    The first network-enabled vending machine was at the Stanford AI lab in the 1970s. I wrote the item below a decade ago.

    The Stanford CS department has had the "Prancing Pony Cooperative", a computer-controlled vending machine, for almost two decades. It's in the third floor lounge of Margret Jacks Hall now, although it once lived at the Power Lab, the original Stanford AI Lab site. It used to be directly connected to the SAIL DEC-20 mainframe, but when SAIL was retired, it was defunct for a while, and it's now connected to the UNIX box that replaced SAIL.

    It's basically a payment system; if you have an account, you can buy things and charge them to your account. The machine has an early-model laptop attached to the front (replacing a Teletype KSR-35) for this purpose. Unfortunately, the vending machine doesn't have any sensors that provide user-useful info you could query via the net. It's one of those old turntable-and-doors type machines, where you push the button to rotate the turntable until something you want is behind a door, then pay. The machine doesn't know if it is full or empty.

    You can type "finger pony@sail.stanford.edu" for some info, and users of that machine can check their account balances.

    John Nagle

    The Pony is long gone. No idea where it ended up. The famous SAIL system is long gone as well; today "sail.stanford.edu" is just the workgroup server for McCarthy's group at Stanford. But "finger pony@sail.stanford.edu" still returns

    • finger pony@sail.stanford.edu

    • [sail.stanford.edu]
      Login name: pony
      In real life: Prancing Pony
      Directory: /u/pony Shell: /bin/tcsh
      Last login Fri Aug 25, 1995 on ttypc from xenon.stanford.edu
      No Plan.
  • The coffee pot page is pretty much a 'milestone' in Internet history... I think it should be saved in the Internet Archive [archive.org] or some place similar to that. archive.org is already saving lots of old www pages [archive.org] in its archive.

  • What is this? It's all dissapearing")(#/) GAAH#! ( http://f145.ryd.student.liu.se/ )
  • An old boy scout song it goes like, this slightly modified to fit this passing moment. Sorry i don't recall the music.

    softly glows the light of day,
    as the coffee brewer fades away.
    silently each coder should ask,
    have I done my daily task.
    have I keeped my code so tight,
    can I sleep without guit tonight.
    solomly these moments past,
    as I rest to morn the past.

    ONEPOINT

    spambait e-mail
    my web site artistcorner.tv hip-hop news
    please help me make it better
  • Oh sure, change the headline on me. But it's not the first ever to come offline either. It's the first ever webcam and it's going offline.
  • The next thing you know, they'll be taking the Coke machine [cmu.edu] off the net!
  • by jht (5006) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:06AM (#379262) Homepage Journal
    Way back in the "good old days", I remember the first browser I ran (remember when there were dozens to choose from?), and I was looking for websites that seemed like they might be interesting. When I saw the Coffee Cam, the little lightbulb in my head finally went off - it was the first real application I had seen that used any of the web's potential. Sure, cameras had been networked before (as had that coffee pot), but the Coffee Cam was the first thing I saw that took advantage of the ability of a browser to handle mixed media in a manner suitable for virtually any platform. Before the cam, web pages were mostly just text with in-line graphics - there were no interactive or dynamic elements.

    By itself, it didn't do much (I mean, it was just a refreshing picture of a coffee pot), but it was the direct precursor of a lot of things we now take for granted.

    It was also arguably (along with the Fish Cam) the immediate ancestor of JenniCam, and all the other webcams out there. As for me, it encouraged me to give up HyperCard for HTML.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • ...wow, I didn't think anyone else knew about this!

    I recall calling all my office co-workers in and showing them. They were utterly amazed!

    Don't have the time to check it out this morning as I got a plane to catch, but can someone tell me...

    ...how many banner ads does it have? :)


  • Are you kidding? We'll all be dead by then and our grand children will be in their 50s when it happens.

    Raneswsin
  • by Cy Guy (56083) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:38AM (#379265) Homepage Journal
    Actually, according the their history page [cmu.edu], it did go off line for a while during the eighties. So maybe this is a good precedent that we will once agin see the beloved Cambridge coffee pot at some future date.

    > In the mid-seventies expansion of the department caused people's
    > offices to be located ever further away from the main terminal room
    > where the Coke machine stood. It got rather annoying to traipse down
    > to the third floor only to find the machine empty - or worse, to shell
    > out hard-earned cash to receive a recently loaded, still-warm Coke.
    > One day a couple of people got together to devise a solution.
    >
    > They installed micro-switches in the Coke machine to sense how many
    > bottles were present in each of its six columns of bottles. The
    > switches were hooked up to CMUA, the PDP-10 that was then the main
    > departmental computer. A server program was written to keep tabs on
    > the Coke machine's state, including how long each bottle had been in
    > the machine. When you ran the companion status inquiry program, you'd
    > get a display that might look like this:
    >
    > EMPTY EMPTY 1h 3m
    > COLD COLD 1h 4m
    >
    > This let you know that cold Coke could be had by pressing the
    > lower-left or lower-center button, while the bottom bottles in the two
    > right-hand columns had been loaded an hour or so beforehand, so were
    > still warm. (I think the display changed to just "COLD" after the
    > bottle had been there 3 hours.)
    >
    > The final piece of the puzzle was needed to let people check Coke
    > status when they were logged in on some other machine than CMUA. CMUA's
    > Finger server was modified to run the Coke status program whenever
    > someone fingered the nonexistent user "coke". (For the uninitiated,
    > Finger normally reports whether a specified user is logged in, and if
    > so where.) Since Finger requests are part of standard ARPANET (now
    > Internet) protocols, people could check the Coke machine from any CMU
    > computer by saying "finger coke@cmua". In fact, you could discover the
    > Coke machine's status from any machine anywhere on the Internet! Not
    > that it would do you much good if you were a few thousand miles away...


  • by Squid (3420) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @05:38AM (#379266) Homepage
    NS1.1 didn't do animated GIFs as we know them today. The Fish Cam used a multipart MIME stream to tell the browser "wait, there's another file coming" and Netscape would happily replace the currently displayed GIF with the next chunk of the stream. You could even control the reload delay by simply having the server wait a few seconds before sending the next chunk. Proper GIF animations didn't show up until NS 2.0.

    Neat trick for its time. I tried resurrecting this technique recently, to do a splash page of cycling random images (I'd just given up trying to do it with dhtml), and couldn't make it work properly on the current crop of browsers. Maybe I was doing something wrong.
  • Back in it's day, this was truly a clever hack. I mean, setting up a camera on the communal coffee pot rocks; you don't have to drag your butt halfway across the building to just to find an empty coffee pot. My hat goes off to these guys.

    On a slightly ironic note, looking at the banner ad (yeah, I look at them from time to time, but I never inhale), I see, you guessed it, the ad for the webcam that TG's pushing. Coincidence, I think not!

  • You make the petition and I'll put my name on it... I'd do it my self, but I'm just too damn lazy. MG
  • Damn, I still remember the day I first found out about the CoffeeCam. I used to think it was soooooo clever! I must have shown it to near anyone back then, being the impressable kid I was. It's stuff like this that makes me feel old. Like remembering watching Ghostbusters in the theater back when it came out, and now buying the DVD and realizing it's 16 years old...
  • Wow, to think webcams nowadays consist of 16 year old girls with a yahoo fan club, amazon wish list, a snotty "all guys hit on me cuz I'm so beautiful!" attitude, and absolutely no content to their website trying to be another JenniCam. Read www.daign.com for more information.
  • >I remember the first browser I ran (remember when there were dozens to choose from?)

    A quick check at: Tucows [tucows.com] shows that their are still "dozens" of browsers to choose from. At least on my OS, you are running windows aren't you?
  • Just as a sideline: Daniel Gordon (who maintains the current cam) is also the author of the most retro webpage [cam.ac.uk] ever, as mentioned in the most recent quickies [slashdot.org].
  • I'm there - the new building is called the William Gates Building. It stands next to the new Microsoft lab and the Cavendish Laboratories.

    Grrr... makes one want to take direct action! (Only kidding, CU authorities).

    I suppose they only did it for the money...
  • You weren't doing anything wrong, that method was depricated some time ago, in favor of animated gifs I believe. I really don't know why, it was a cool technique (still is imho). It probably had something to do with problems associated with holding a stream open for so long; I dunno...
  • I can get to the web page but I can't view the picture of the coffe pot.

    Odd - works fine here! (I'm accessing it over the LAN, though...)

    Too much traffic I suspect. Reliabilty of service or the lack of continues to be major issue with the Web (servers and Internet connectivity included).

    Unlikely; that server sits on a brand new OC-48 (well, STM-16, being in Europe)...

    As for Banner Ad's, I don't see any (thanks to filtering software such as AdSubtract).

    No possibility of banner ads on this site, either: one of the very few rules on our servers is "no ads"! (This is a university, remember: we get cheaper Net access, on the understanding it's for educational/personal use only.)

  • RFC2324: Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol [faqs.org]. My favourite response code is "418 I'm a teapot". Oddly though, Apache refused to accept this config. Maybe, I'll have to send a bug report.
  • They should patent the idea especially if they can figure out some way to make Amazon.com give them money as a result.

  • we are working on a robotic webcam microserver [iomojo.com] that uses http push, bt878 card, linux, php, mysql, apache, some l337 scriptz & this amazing little pan tilt cam [iomojo.com] check out an online demo [vidcard.com]

    -mind... different...

  • Dig a little deeper on the page and note the not-so-retro cease & desist order [cam.ac.uk] from a British law firm.

    Makes me long for a time when the web wasn't littered with lawyers.

  • Banner Ads?

    It had precisely zero.
  • I don't think so, .. it should have been in those days. It was about the time that i first discovered that there were pictures on the web. I used to use a shell account (lynx) ;-)

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