Welcome to your Virtual Community

By Peter Giuliano

In 1993, computer scientists at Cambridge University in England decided to attach the feed from a video camera to the brand-new invention called the internet, and in the process created the first webcam. This webcam was trained on a coffee pot in a break room, so the scientists could see how much coffee was in the pot and, thus, could avoid pointless trips to the coffee room. Of course, that information didn‘t just stay within the university, because anyone who was connected to the internet could see how much coffee there was in the pot at that very moment.

Everyone was amazed at this, and the Trojan Room Coffee Pot Cam became one of the first internet phenomena. Although the feed was retired in 2001, it’s became an important part of internet history.

Thinking about it in those terms, coffee was at the center of the very birth of internet community. That makes sense, of course, because coffee has always been about community. From the Ethiopian coffee ritual—which focuses on family and village interaction—to the coffeehouses of Arabia and Europe, coffee has always inspired a sense of cohesion among people. When the global “virtual” community emerged, coffee was right there waiting.

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