San Francisco's FogCam, Billed As The Oldest Running Webcam, Is Set To Go Dark The webcam at San Francisco State University has been in operation since 1994. Now, its creators say they plan to sunset the Internet landmark by the end of the month.

The End Is Nigh For FogCam, Billed As The Internet's Oldest Running Webcam

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Lots of things have changed in San Francisco since nearby Silicon Valley sparked a tech revolution. But for the past quarter-century, you could at least count on a couple of things - the fog that often shrouds the city and the live webcam that watches it. FogCam is said to be the world's oldest running webcam. It's one of the oldest websites, period. But as NPR's Colin Dwyer reports, the end is near for this Internet landmark.

COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: The two guys who created FogCam didn't say too much when they announced its coming demise - just a single tweet Sunday, saying that their webcam at San Francisco State University is going dark at the end of the month. That kind of simplicity is fitting for an operation that has been pretty understated from the very beginning.

Here's Jeff Schwartz, who started the cam with Dan Wong on a shoestring budget back when they were students in 1994.

JEFF SCHWARTZ: Dan and I scrounged together some equipment - I mean, old equipment that no one really wanted to use, bought a little cheap camera at the college bookstore and threw together some AppleScript and some freeware and create a webcam.

DWYER: Schwartz and Wong - who go by the nicknames Webdog and Danno online - say that theirs was not the first webcam. That distinction goes to a camera that watched a communal coffee pot at the University of Cambridge. But while that camera shut down nearly two decades ago, FogCam is still going strong for now, not that there that there was ever any big, serious mission behind it.

SCHWARTZ: We've just kept it going for 25 years because it was just this kind of little cool thing that we liked.

DWYER: But these days, keeping the cam up and running has just become too much trouble. Schwartz says that the school just kind of tolerated its presence, and they've had to move it around a bunch over the years. At one point, it was looking down on a coffee shop, which Schwartz found funny - an inside joke that was a nod to the Cambridge coffee pot cam.

Currently, FogCam is taking images of a street on campus, refreshed every 20 seconds. But to Schwartz, it's about more than a stretch of Holloway Avenue. FogCam is a vestige of a different era.

SCHWARTZ: Anyone, just some individual, could just create something cool, set it up, publish it on the Internet, and people could come and look at it. It was a fun time, an interesting time, and I think in some ways the Internet lacks that today.

DWYER: The forecast for FogCam's final days is partly cloudy, hopefully with just a touch of fog.

Colin Dwyer, NPR News.


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