In 1995 there was no webcam software. Netscape had their fishcam and USC had their TommyTrojancam. I wanted to have a webcam to send pictures of the surf to my home. I had called a security company to ask them how to get video from the beach in Manhattan Beach to our home on 11th Street. They said they could put in some towers and cameras for about $10,000.
I could not afford that so I called up USC to ask who did their webcam. One of the designers was Carl Sutter, an IT expert. I called Carl, met with him, and explained what I was thinking. Carl knew immediately what to do and how to do it.
In those days we had to take several steps to get an image from a camera to a web site.
- Spawn an image capture program to tell a digital camera to snap a picture and save it to local memory.
- Spawn a dialer to use a phone line to dial up an ISP (internet service provider)
- Spawn an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program to send the file to the ISP where our web site was placed. HTML (HyperText Markup Language) was written so that the image was displayed.
At that time Visual Basic was a popular programming language. Carl used subprograms that would communicate with visual basic to accomplish all 3 actions we needed. Carl added some convenient options like the time between captures and the destination file at the ISP end.
It was just a few weeks later that Carl and I met to test his work. It worked just as we planned. I soon began to try to think of a name for the software. I knew that it took pictures and sent them to the web. One night I was thinking about Shake and Bake and came upon Snap and Send. I immediately created a logo, and filed for a trademark. I was fought by some big firms over that TM but I got it. SnapNSend was born.
As soon as I was sure it was operational I called the late Sean Collins, the best surf forecaster in the world and the founder of Surfline.com based at the pier in Huntington Beach. Sean was happy to hear from me. He said “I was going to be forced to email my pictures to my ISP in Boston”. We met shortly after that call. In early 1966 I met Sean at his office behind the clock tower overlooking the Huntington Beach Pier. Sean installed a camera in the clock tower and started streaming pictures to his web site.
Here is a page from Surfline talking about that fateful time. Click on the picture for a larger view.