In 1991 the first webcam, called the CoffeeCam, pointed at the Trojan room coffee pot in the computer science department of Cambridge University. The purpose of the CoffeeCam was to show computer scientists who were not working close to the coffee pot when there might be fresh coffee in the pot so that they could make the journey to the pot without being disappointed.
"The camera was installed on a local network in 1991 using a video capture card on an Acorn Archimedes computer. Employing the X Window System protocol, Quentin Stafford-Fraser wrote the client software and Paul Jardetzky wrote the server. When web browsers gained the ability to display images in March 1993, it was clear 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." (quoted from the Trojan Room Coffee Machine article in Wikipedia, accessed 11-23-2008).
The camera was finally switched off on August 22, 2001. The final image captured by the camera could be viewed at its homepage in November 2008.