What would be your wildest guess for the reason behind the invention of a webcam? Well, we’re here to tell you it’s nothing like you expected. Neither did the lethargic students at Cambridge University. They had little idea that their seemingly trivial invention would become such a common piece of computer equipment around the world. 

Here’s what the students at Cambridge University were up to when they ended up inventing the webcam.

The coffee machine outside the Trojan Room at the Cambridge computer was an endless source of back and forth coffee.

Back in 1991, too many trips were being made to the coffee machine by hopeful students jonsing for some hot java, only to find the pot empty on more than a few occasions. It was eventually deemed a waste of time and effort to walk up to the coffee machine if it was going to be found empty. You know how irritating that can be.


So, Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky decided to invent a remote camera device to keep an eye on the coffee pot.

Hence, the first webcam that was ever invented was placed in position to keep a check on the levels of coffee at the machine. Rigged up with an old computer in the lab, the webcam would generate a 129X129 pixel grayscale image at 1 frame per second, of that delicious coffee.


By November 22, 1993, Dr Martyn Johnson introduced the webcam to the world wide web.

Since, he wasn’t connected to the internal network of the Cambridge University labs, Dr Johnson was unable to run the coffee pot cam on his platform. By this time, the legend of the coffee pot cam had hit the world and users from all across were trying to access the viewing of The Trojan Room coffee machine.


After a wave of protest from nostalgic viewers of the coffee pot cam, the webcam overlooking the Trojan Room was finally switched off in August, 2001. As for the coffee pot, some very enthusiastic buyers purchased it off of eBay for a whopping ₹3.5 Lakh.

Well, who would’ve known.