It all started with a fish tank. It was the 1990s, while I was in grad school working on a project for University of Michigan’s Advanced Technology Lab in their EE department. Someone at another university had aimed a webcam at the office fish tank and published the feed on the early web.
You could hit the refresh button every 30 seconds on primitive browsers like HotMetal to see if the fish had moved. Our research goals at the time were a few orders of magnitude more sophisticated. We were trying to make telerobots controllable over unreliable networks.
Source: It’s called virtual “reality” for a reason | TechCrunch