The History of CamChat.org
When it started (1998)
To the best of my memory, my first webcam picture was uploaded in 1998. I had learned to make a simple webpage with html as I had just built a family site with pictures of my kids. I soon ran across the webcam/chat site's and was immedately fascinated by this. This is what made me want to have my own chatroom and webcam page.
I found out early that the most reliable chat was IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Many chat/webcam sites were using this method but the connection from a webpage was hard to find and the software in those days was not too good. There were no real good java/chat connections to an IRC server that worked well from a webpage. I did, however, run into ChatStop.net in the first year or two. They had a hybrid type of IRC server and java application that was pretty stable. We continue to use this platform to this day.
Now is a good time to bring up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as it played a big part in the early days, and still does today. I had built my first working webpage. I could upload a webcam picture of myself. I had embedded the chatroom. It all worked, and I launched it!
There I was... live on the web (60 sec. updated pics) in my own chatroom where you can talk to me... LIVE! This was AWESOME! So I sat there, on a Geocities free webpage... sitting and waiting by myself, for three days, without sleep, or food.. and not one visitor. : \
I looked on Yahoo! search (this was before Google became popular) and I was not listed. This sparked my interest in SEO. I knew I had to be listed on Yahoo! to get any traffic and have anyone to chat with. After a little research, and adjustment in code, I finally became listed on Yahoo! search.
When It Started to Grow (1998-2000)
One of my first visitors was Jeff, who went by the nickname of "Ouroboros." His was the second webcam ever added.
Jeff soon bacame my partner in the project. We both knew a little HTML and we worked together to make the best of this. Now you could "Click here to see John" and "Click here to see Jeff". Together we added features and improved the site. For the next three years Jeff played an important part in the foundation and building of what we have today.
The third cam added was "Smacks". As it turned out, Smacks was quite wealthy, and his wife was a highly-paid model. Smacks played a big part in the social side of things and kept the women's interest quite well in these days. The project continued to grow thanks in big part to him.
The MetalFlakes Connection
Jeff was already affiliated with the website MetalFlakes.com. This is a heavy metal fan base site which still exists today. There was a cross-over and the CamChat chatroom soon became the chatroom for MetalFlakes as well. The room grew at an amazing rate.
There are so many members to thank during this period including, JJoker, Smacks, Ouroboros, Tool, Jenna (the cop) The MetalFlakes Crew, Ali, Leslie (PurpleFrogy), Gypsy, findercomnet, Tash, Baby-C, Flarpo, DarkAngel, _-Dark-_, Gabbi, Artus, Bex, Blade, Sandi, Hunter, Bunny79ca, WarLady, Bashful, SnowWhite, Twistie, HaileyBailey and too many others to list here. If it weren't for these people's drive and determination I'm not sure we'd even be here today.
Free Web Servers
During these years the site was running on free website services such as Geocities, AngelFire, Yahoo!, Web1000... wherever we could find free hosting with the least amount of banner ads.
I have to mention Sandi and ChatStop.net. They have always been our chat service of choice ever since the begining and though we have left a time or two, CamChat.org always returns to the reliable service provided by ChatStop.net. They have always been willing to host our chat service for free.
Web Site Partnership Split (2001)
MetalFlakes.com continued to play a big part in the early days of CamChat. Much of the traffic and users were from that site. However, early in 2001 Jeff started to become annoyed by the IRC format. He wanted to use a different chat interface. Being an IRC proponent and long-time user of IRC I pushed back. I already had room mods using mIRC Scripts and wanted to keep IRC as the format for the project.
Jeff bacame quiet for several weeks. Unbeknownst to me, Jeff had begun building his own web site without me. In May-June, 2001 Jeff started inviting all the users to his new website.
I was at at odds as to what to do. I tried to ask for access to the server to install the IRC chat. This was denied. There was a new chat format up on his new site.
I had no choice but to quickly register my own domain (www.CamChat.org) and attempt to retain as many users as possible. As it ended up, about half of the users saw what had happened and stayed with the project, but most of the MetalFlakes crew went with Jeff's new site. I still consider myself friends with the MetalFlakes.com crew and hold no hard feelings towards them from the split.
Chat Meet in Seattle (Aug 2002)
CamChat.org remained strong and maintained traffic due to SEO techniques. In 2002, many of the users were from Washington state. A get-together was held in the Seattle with eight of the users. Unfortunately, pictures have been lost due to hard drive crashes over the years.
Behind the Scenes (2003-2007)
CamChat continued to grow but always had its up and downs as far as number of users. As the years progressed, 60 second updated pictures were no longer acceptable. People wanted more and CamChat.org was going to have to do something in order to survive. For the first eight years I did all the design and code work myself. With my limited knowledge I had to make use of templates and just get by the best I could.
In 2003, I met my beautiful wife Julie (aka "PupsLoveDoll") while on a smoking break at work. Julie is a professional web developer and graphic designer who has worked on big sites like Toyota and various NFL teams. After we moved the CamChat offices from Atlanta to San Diego in 2005, Julie started doing the design and coding for CamChat and has been doing it ever since.
Streaming Video Introduced (2008)
In the past, streaming video was very difficult and costly. You had to rent a Flash Media Server or have your own robust media server setup. CamChat was always just still picture uploads at 60 sec. intervals. This was done straight FTP to the web server. Every 60 seconds you got a new picture. CamChat has always been free and there never was money to rent and maintain that type of equipment needed for a streaming media server.
Thanks to recent advances such as Red5 open source media server and cheaper hosting, CamChat.org introduced free video/voice chat during the 2008 redesign. This breathed new life into CamChat.org and the site was once again wildly popular.
2008 proved to be a tough year on the search engines as Google seemed to constantly drop us from their listings. At the times when CamChat.org is well listed, the room has been very busy with new users enjoying the free video chat.
The Road Ahead (2009 and Beyond)
As we continue to grow, our success lies not only in the new users visiting the site, but largely on the loyal chatting community and room moderators that support this project. Many thanks go out to all of you who've been with CamChat, and make it a fun place to be.