The Internet's Longest-Streaming Webcam Is Shutting Down

Photo: Getty

After a quarter-century of continuous operation, the San Francisco FogCam is set to go offline on August 30.

Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong, who go by Webdog and Danno, set up the cam on the San Francisco State University campus in 1994.

Schwartz told SF Gate he decided to try the FogCam as an experiment when he was learning to script. He was inspired by the Trojan Room Coffee Pot cam, which was created in 1991 so University of Cambridge academics could check if the central coffee pot was empty or full before they left their lab for a cup. In 1993, the coffee cam was connected to the internet, making it the world’s first webcam.

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As SF Gate reports, Schwartz and Wong sometimes took a cue from the coffee pot cam and pointed the FogCam at a campus cafe to show if there was a line of people waiting to eat. But usually, the camera just pointed at the street to show how fog-covered campus was.

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Screenshot: Fogcam

“It was just a little pet project that developed a life of its own. People liked it so we kept it going,” Schwartz told SF Gate. “Our webcam is a throwback to the early days of the internet when anyone could do anything.”

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Schwartz and Wong kept the cam going for 25 years—a little homage to the early internet—but now they have decided it’s no longer worth the trouble.

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“The bottom line is that we no longer have a really good view or place to put the camera,” Schwartz told SF Gate. “The university tolerates us, but they don’t really endorse us and so we have to find secure locations on our own.”

According to Schwartz, the FogCam website will be left up “for sake of posterity.” He told SF Gate he doesn’t know if SFSU will keep a new version of the FogCam going. The university did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment.

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Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo