The Trojan Room Coffee Pot

| September 8th, 2006

Ever wondered how the ubiquitous webcam came into existence. Well, it all started in the Trojan Room at the University of Cambridge way back in 1991. There were a couple of guys working in the room on ATM networks and all they had for refreshment was a coffee filter machine placed outside in the corridor. And then there were a couple of other guys, members of the coffee club, who worked in different parts of the building. These guys had to navigate several flights of stairs to get to the coffee pot only to find it emptied by the all-night hackers of the Trojan Room. This is why the XCoffee was born.

Paul Jardetzky and Quentin Stafford-Fraser setup up a video frame-grabber and hacked up a client-server program that would display an icon-sized image of the coffee pot, which refreshed at the rate of about three times every minute. This helped them to decide when the time was right to get a cup of coffee.

Trojan Room Coffee Pot

This image above is that of the actual coffee pot. The coffee machine was finally switched off at 0954 UTC on Wednesday 22nd August 2001.

It sometimes makes me wonder how small ideas/needs revolutionize the world.