Trojan Room coffee pot

Trojan Room coffee pot

The Trojan Room coffee pot was the inspiration for the world's first webcam. The coffee pot was located in the so-called Trojan Room within the old Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. The webcam was created to help people working in other parts of the building avoid pointless trips to the coffee room by providing, on the user's desktop computer, a live 128x128 grayscale picture of the state of the coffee pot. [cite web|url=|title=The Trojan Room Coffee Machine|author=Daniel Gordon, Martyn Johnson|accessdate=2006-10-26] [cite web|url=|title=Trojan Room Coffee Pot resources|author=Quentin Stafford-Fraser|accessdate=2006-10-26]

The camera was installed on a local network in 1991 using a video capture card on an Acorn Archimedes computer. Employing the X Window System protocol, Quentin Stafford-Fraser wrote the client software and Paul Jardetzky wrote the server. When web browsers gained the ability to display images in March 1993, it was clear this would be an easier way to make the picture available. The camera was connected to the Internet in November 1993 by Daniel Gordon and Martyn Johnson. It therefore became visible to any Internet user and grew into a popular landmark of the early web.

At 09:54 UTC on 22 August, 2001 the camera was finally switched off and the pot (a German Krups model, actually the fourth or fifth seen on-line) was auctioned on eBay for £3,350 to Spiegel Online, the Internet version of "Der Spiegel" magazine. Coverage of the event included front page mentions in "The Times" of London and "The Washington Post", as well as articles in "The Guardian" and "Wired". [cite web|url=|author=Quentin Stafford-Fraser|accessdate=2006-10-26|title=Blog post listing media coverage of the shutdown]

After being refurbished by employees of Krups free of charge, the pot has been switched on again in the editorial office of Spiegel Online.

Other mentions

* On a list of "400 differences" in Visual Studio 2005, "difference #73" showed 2 men watching a camera feed of a coffee maker which is actually in the same room. [ [ 400+ Differences] - Microsoft (first row, third column in image link section, link down as of March 2008)] This is supposed to show increased efficiency as demonstrated by not having to check the coffee maker's progress.
* The coffee pot is spoofed in the video game "". In one mission, "The Graveyard Shift", the player can cause distraction by destroying a "coffee camera" in the kitchen.
* The coffee pot is referenced in the protocol specification for the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol, proposed in the April Fools' Day RFC 2324.


Further reading

* [ The Life and Times of the First Web Cam: When convenience was the mother of invention] , "Communications of the ACM", Vol.44, No.7 pp. 25-26, July 2001
* [*/ Internet Archive of the site]
* [ New coffee pot webcam at the offices of Spiegel Online]

External links

* [ Trojan Room Coffee Machine]

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