The online cafe phenomenon was started in July 1991 by Wayne Gregori in San Francisco when he began SFnet Coffeehouse Network. Gregori designed, built and installed 25 coin operated computer terminals in coffeehouses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The concept of a cafe with full internet access, and the name 'Cybercafé', was invented in early 1994 by Ivan Pope. Commissioned to develop an Internet event for an arts weekend at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, and inspired by the SFnet terminal based cafes, Pope wrote a proposal outlining the concept of a café with Internet access from the tables. The event was run over the weekend of 12–13 March 1994 during the 'Towards the Aesthetics of the Future' event.
Following the launch of .net magazine in 1994, Ivan Pope and Steve Bowbrick founded Webmedia, an early web development company, in the basement. The aim of Webmedia was to professionalise the design and building of web sites, a service that had not been available before that time. Webmedia grew fast over the next two years, gaining early web accounts from the likes of Lloyds Bank and Lufthansa.
At the end of 1994 and in early 1995, journalists, entrepreneurs, bankers, chancers, geeks and travellers descended on Whitfield St to find out what was going on, and some became regular visitors. By May 1996, 200 cybercafés had opened around the world, all modelled on Cyberia; the Cyberia brand was represented in Manchester, Edinburgh, Paris and Tokyo, with others to follow in the US and Far East.
In the early 2000s, the Fitzrovia café was run by South Korean interests, rebranded as 'Be The Reds' after a Korean football slogan. Besides internet-connected computers, the café was mainly used as a gaming parlour, with a karaoke bar downstairs.
- John Flinn (1991). "High-Tech Small Talk at City's cafes", The San Francisco Examiner, Front Page.
- Yahoo Cybercafe Competition - Ivan Pope
- Watch this Cyberspace, The Independent
- Paul Mulvey (1994-012-06). "Coffee and a byte?". The Bulletin (Australia). Archived from the original on 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- Sunday Times report
- The Perfect Storm - Ivan Pope
- Fitzrovia - Be The Reds / Cyberia cyber cafe (currently shut), London CyberPunk Tourist Guide. Retrieved 2010-06-20
- FLICKR image and notes