Trojan Room coffee pot

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The coffee pot, as displayed in XCoffee

The Trojan Room coffee pot was a coffee machine located next to the so-called Trojan Room, in the old Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, England, which provided the inspiration for the world's first webcam.

To save people working in the building the disappointment of making a trip to the coffee machine only to find it empty, a camera was set up in 1991, providing a live picture of the coffee pot to all desktop computers on the office network. After the live feed was made available to the wider internet, a few years later, the coffee pot gained international notoriety as a feature of the fledging World Wide Web, until it was retired in 2001.[1][2]


The last picture that the webcam ever took, showing a hand about to switch the server off

The 128×128 px greyscale camera was installed on a local network in 1991 using a video capture card on an Acorn Archimedes computer. Quentin Stafford-Fraser wrote the client software, dubbed XCoffee, employing the X Window System protocol, while Paul Jardetzky wrote the server. Web browsers gained the ability to display images in March 1993, and it became clear that this would be an easier way to make the picture available. The camera was connected to the Internet in November 1993 by Daniel Gordon and Martyn Johnson. It therefore became visible to any Internet user and grew into a popular landmark of the early web.

Following the laboratory's move to its current premises, the camera was eventually switched off, at 09:54 UTC on 22 August 2001. Coverage of the shutdown included front-page mentions in The Times and The Washington Post, as well as articles in The Guardian and Wired.[3]

The last Krups coffee pot, which was the fourth or fifth seen online, was auctioned on eBay for £3,350 to Spiegel Online, the Internet version of the German Der Spiegel magazine. The pot was later refurbished by Krups employees free of charge, and was switched on again in the editorial office of Spiegel Online.[4] Since the summer of 2015, the coffee maker is on permanent loan to the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

The coffee pot is spoofed in the video game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. In the "Graveyard Shift" mission the player can cause a distraction by destroying a "coffee camera" in the kitchen.

The coffee pot is referenced in the protocol specification for the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol, proposed in the April Fools' Day RFC 2324.

The coffee pot was mentioned on the BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers on 24 February 2005.[4]


  1. ^ Daniel Gordon, Martyn Johnson. "The Trojan Room Coffee Machine". Retrieved 26 October 2006. 
  2. ^ Quentin Stafford-Fraser. "Trojan Room Coffee Pot resources". Retrieved 26 October 2006. 
  3. ^ Quentin Stafford-Fraser. "Blog post listing media coverage of the shutdown". Retrieved 26 October 2006. 
  4. ^ a b "The Trojan Room Coffee Pot". BBC World Service - Witness. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Spiegel Online schickt die berühmteste Kaffeemaschine der Welt in Rente, 26. Januar 2015

Further reading[edit]

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