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The First Coffee on the Internet?

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Is your coffee pot ready for its close up? [Photograph: Mykl Roventine on Flickr]

Sure, there's coffee all over the Web these days, but did you know that the first live webcam telecast was caffeinated? Here, a little bit about the coffee pot that launched a thousand bean blogs.

In 1991, the University of Cambridge's computer department was full of tech geeks who, like the rest of us, were barely human until they'd had their morning coffee. In order to alert colleagues of the first (and last) drop in the pot, they trained a camera on the thing and shared the image locally. It went live online in 1993, where it happily perked away through the earliest boom years of the Internet.

Probably because of the sheer lack of activity on the Web in those early days, the so-called Trojan Coffee Pot (named for the room that housed it) achieved cult status, and people worldwide were tracking the jittery habits of the Cambridge geeks.

Sadly, the fabled pot signed off on August 22, 2001, when the university's computer department relocated to swanky new digs. But it found a second life on another content thanks to eBay, and went on to caffeinated the web division of Germany's Der Spiegel.

(If you're the type to need closure, however, here is a link to the final picture from the feed, as the server was turned off for moving.)

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

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