Located on the San Francisco State University campus, the FogCam was set up to monitor weather changes. Since it was switched on in 1994 it has broadcast nearly continuously aside from times when it underwent maintenance or was re-sited to maintain its view of the campus.
The pair who set up FogCam, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong, said it was being switched off because there were now no good locations for it to be situated. Finding it harder and harder to find secure and suitable locations to mount the camera, Schwartz said he felt it was “time to let it go”.
“The bottom line is that we no longer have a really good view or place to put the camera,” he said, “The university tolerates us, but they don’t really endorse us and so we have to find secure locations on our own”.
The website through which the stream is accessible will continue despite FogCam’s termination.
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Schwartz said he was inspired to put up FogCam by the world’s first-ever live webcam, the Trojan Room Coffee Pot cam, which pre-dated the internet. The Coffee Pot cam was set up at Cambridge University in 1993 to watch a communal coffee pot.
Coffee Pot cam was used by researchers at the university, who worked on different floors, to see if the pot was full or not before they made the journey to the coffee lounge, which meant navigating several flights of stairs. However, the idea sparked interest amongst tech enthusiasts and became popular around the globe.
After Coffee Cam was decommissioned the coffee pot was sold for £3,350 in an online auction, however, the pot’s last image can still be viewed online.
FogCam has outlasted Coffee Cam, which was shut off in 2001, to take the title of world’s oldest running webcam.
Initially, the project was a way for Schwartz and Wong, who were both aspiring programmers to practise coding and to learn more about early web technology. It was part of their student project in the Department of Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University,
Schwartz said: “It was just a little pet project that developed a life of its own. 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”.
FogCam’s site was also one of the first websites to foray into social media, hosting its own live chat room in tandem with its webcam.