28 August, 2014
The Origin of Cyber Cafés
This article was written by Phineas Upham
Cyber Cafes are not so different from the concept of the 17th century coffee house. Even today, some might scoff at the idea of going into a public space in order to connect with someone miles away. Yet we’ve been doing this for centuries every time we read the newspaper over coffee at a coffee house, or when we do work there.
The concept of the cyber café can trace itself back to the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. After a day spent watching the Games, spectators were free to move about a sprawling city filled with technological innovation. One of the more popular attractions became cyber cafes where technology promoters would host events.
The first cyber café was actually commissioned as part of the Olympic Arts Festival. It was funded in large part by LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and its function was to demonstrate the concept of networking outside of one’s immediate area. The café, called “Electronic Café International,” demonstrated co-collaboration and networked environments that could communicate in real-time.
Much of the concepts we take for granted today, telecommunications or gaming for instance, were just glimmers in the distant future at that point. It was an exciting time to dream, and the café was meant to symbolize all of those hopes.
Ten years later, a café in Dallas would continue this trend. The Dallas Infomart was less of a café and more of a convention, but it still served as a platform to demonstrate how technology would eventually better our lives.
About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.