I suppose it's tough now to explain how novel webcams used to be. It's not like you could log in to outpost.com and get a usb webcam for forty bucks. Back in 1995, if you wanted to have a cam, you had to get yourself a video camera, get hardware to digitize the picture to your computer, and get/write software that would capture the image every so often (or get/write software that would tell the digitizer to deliver a jpeg whenever your local web server requested it). All of these things are easily available now; then, none of them were, except the camera itself.
Still, it was a new concept with a high geeky-cool factor, so many of them popped up around the web. The first I ran into was by a guy named Frank Adelstein, who had one pointing into his office. It updated the pic every second or so, and it was only 10 seconds behind reality. It used to be at Ohio State, but his pages (and, presumably, Frank) have Moved On.
Anyway, I thought this was the coolest thing. For days I was like a web stalker, because I'd keep checking the picture. I couldn't get over the sheer novelty of it. After a while, I thought it'd be cool to ask him about it--and hey, wouldn't you know, he had his office number listed in his web pages.
Here's a collection of sequential images I grabbed off Frank's camera:
"I can't believe I got the picture," I say.
"Yeah, I just wanted to see it work," he replies. "I was in front of the camera so I could get the picture up on Frank's screen."
"Well, I've got it now, which means so will everybody on the Web."