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The Creators of the World's Longest-Running Webcam Are Pulling the Plug

FogCam, an early-internet project of two San Francisco State University alumni, has reached its end after 25 years.

by Samantha Cole
20 August 2019, 5:00am

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

In 1994, San Francisco State University students Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong propped a webcam up on a campus building roof, pointed it toward the frequently-foggy Holloway Avenue, and started continually posting images of what it captured over the relatively new internet.

Twenty-five years later, FogCam is considered the longest webcam still running. But soon, its time will be up.

Late Saturday night on the west coast, the cam's creators—known online as Webdog and Danno—tweeted from the FogCam account that they would stop operating the cam later this month.

"After 25 years, Fogcam is shutting down forever at the end of August," they wrote. "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."

According to SFGate, Schwartz cited logistics and lack of institutional support as reasons why they're shutting down FogCam.

"We felt it was time to let it go," he said. "The bottom line is that we no longer have a really good view or place to put the camera. The university tolerates us, but they don't really endorse us and so we have to find secure locations on our own."

Early webcams, including the 1991 Trojan Room coffee pot cam (the first webcam ever) and Netscape founding engineer Lou Montulli's Amazing Fishcam, were the testing grounds for many elements of the internet as we know it today, including sending real-time images over the internet, and ecommerce. JenniCam, the first "lifecaster," launched two years later, in 1996. These livestreams paved the way for modern streaming services that have become ubiquitous to life online.

"Our webcam is a throwback to the early days of the Internet when anyone could do anything," Schwartz told SFGate. He said that they're unsure whether the university will step in to continue the project and save the FogCam, but they're open to the idea of a new generation keeping it running.

If FogCam does cease operations, it will pass the title of oldest operating webcam to Montulli's Fishcam, which also started live-streaming in 1994.

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