SF State maintains the world’s oldest FogCam, a stamp of history within the university
Faculty kept up the broadcast to showcase student achievement.
December 8, 2022
As students walk through the Quad, they may not know they are passing through a historic live broadcast.
The world’s oldest operating FogCam resides on the second floor of the Business Building to record “Karl the Fog,” a nickname given to San Francisco’s blanket of fog.
FogCam was created as a master thesis project by two Instructional Technologies students, Dan Wong and Jeff Schwartz in 1994. Wong took over FogCam after Schwartz graduated because he was hired at SF State as AT staff.
Since its inception, FogCam has been placed at different locations from the Student Health Center overlooking Tapia Drive to the Humanities Building aimed at Cafe Rosso and finally, the J. Paul Leonard Library broadcasting toward Holloway Avenue.
In 2019, Wong and Schwartz announced the end of FogCam.
Following a slew of mainstream media coverage regarding the the announcement, Assistant Vice President of Academic Technology Andrew Roderick asked Schwartz if AT could pickup the URL fee and take over the FogCam.
“I said we’ll keep it up and running.,” Roderick said. “It’s nice for the university; it’s a nice reflection of a student project that happened here that now has a bit of folklore out there in the world.”
Schwartz agreed as long as he and Wong could still get credit for the FogCam.
Roderick believes most of the interest in FogCam comes from the outside community, including alumni who find it a novelty and something that connects them and the broader community to SF State.
“Current students may not even be aware it exists, but for them, it represents an enduring example of the great work students do at SF State, which in many cases, we never hear about or goes away over time,” Roderick said.
According to Roderick, there is no goal for FogCam except to keep it running and show that SF State values the work and innovation of students.
SF State alumnus Robyn Ollodort, a product and service success specialist who works for Academic Technology, runs the social media and website for the FogCam. She said some of the challenges are keeping FogCom close to its core because of the level of new technology available.
“We [Andrew Roderick and Ollodort] want to make sure that it’s between being that nostalgic, retro, vintage, inexpensive little webcam and reliable,” Ollodort said.
Ollodort feels the cam is another piece of what makes San Francisco a unique place to live.
“I think it is that San Francisco kind of weirdness, like quirky kind of do-it-yourself projects that I feel are so typical of San Francisco,” Ollodort said. “You can think of all the different neighborhoods, all the kinds of similar one-off kinds of things that we have. And to me, this is just another one of those. Another thing that makes this part of town cool.”
Megan Russell, a senior Studio Art major, said she heard about FogCam on Twitter when it was shutting down in 2019, and believes the longevity of the broadcast leaves an impact on the university.
“It’s a pretty big part of history,” she said. “It’s one of the oldest livestreams and still going on, I think that’s pretty cool, and people should know about it.”