The early days (was: Aug 19 CU SEEME T SHIRT DAY)

Tim Dorcey (
Thu, 18 Aug 1994 21:02:59 -0400

Jean Polly says:

>We decided to celebrate CU SeeMe Day on Aug 19 this year, since it is a
>work day and more people will be around than on Saturday Aug 20, which we
>believe to be the day of the first off-campus CU SeeMe transmission.
>If you have a CU SeeMe T shirt, be sure to wear it tomorrow!
>When is CU SeeMe's REAL birthday? Alas, it is lost in collective unconcious...
>If you have further historical information, please post it here.

Jean's note got me feeling a little nostalgic, so I went digging through my
archives to reconstruct the initial CU-SeeMe product development process.
Here's what I was able to find:

Following is the basic product design document and implementation plans
which we worked from:

>Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1992 11:35:43 -0400
>From: Dick Cogger <>
>Subject: Re: Mac programming
>To: Tim Dorcey <>
>Hi Tim,
> Yes, let's start as soon as possible.
> The task is basically to get Mac desk-top-video conferencing going
>as soon as possible in any do-able mode at all. I have quick-time, a sample
>>video player that puts up a live video window, using either a rasterops 24stv
>or a video spigot, and I can step thru the program in ThinkC debugger.
>So now it's a case of grabbing images, computing interframe diffs, making
>packets, building UDP datagrams and sending with MacTCP, receiving them,
>displaying, and whatever user-interface goodies needed to support that.
>Then, we want to get audio going too. I havn't gotten very far researching
> After next week, I'm planning to take two weeks vacation, during
>which, I plan to work full time plus on getting some of this to happen.
>Your help would be extremely valuable-- I figure if we can get something
>working at all, we can then refine it along the way and probably get
>additional resources, time-committment, etc.
> -Dick

Things then got off to a slow start as it wasn't until the end of July that
we were even able to grab a frame from the Spigot. The first network
capable version was called "WatchTim" and as near as can figure was created
on August 31, 1992, except that you couldn't really watch me because I
didn't have a camera. Instead you got to see a videotape of C-SPAN that I
used for all of the early development. A separate application called
"VideoSend" was used to transmit. Soon, there was a "WatchDick" and I
think maybe a "WatchSteve," and before I went any further Dick suggested
that I should add a way to enter IP addresses rather than hard-coding them
in the application (I had been aiming for a streamlined user interface).
But, of course, what he really wanted was a single application that would
both send and receive, so September 13th brought us "DigitDemo2Way." By
this time, everyone was getting tired of my naming style, and as a quick
thinking maneuver to avoid the name suggested by our Vice President
("EZ-Pic"), Dick came up with "CU-SeeMe," on September 27th, I think. So,
I guess that would be the official birthday for CU-SeeMe. Or, if you want
to go with the first transmission outside Cornell, I would put that around
September 1--shortly after the first local transmission (this is, after
all, the Internet Protocol, and if you can send it across the room, you can
send it around the world!).


Tim Dorcey
Sr. Programmer/Analyst (607) 255-5715
Advanced Technologies & Planning
CIT Network Resources
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14850