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Ringley wasn’t the first subject of an experiment in webcamming

Signing up for services like My Free Cams, Flirt4Free, or Chaturbate, which are essentially platforms like Facebook or Snapchat, is simple. Once you’ve filled out a web form, verified your age and agreed to the service’s terms and conditions, you can immediately start streaming to a limitless audience of viewers seeking human connection and, of course, sexual release. With the right tools and an ID that says they’re 18 or older, these 21st-century push-button celebrities don’t even have to leave their bedrooms to make a living, and they all have one woman to thank.

Early on, she decided to giver her followers unrestricted access to her daily activities, including intimate moments like masturbation and sex

When Jennifer Ringley picked up a webcam at her college book store in 1996, she had no way of knowing she’d serve as the catalyst for an industry that’s been estimated to pull in more than $1 billion in revenue annually. Just two years earlier, Connectix, a small peripheral maker released the QuickCam, a digital camera that sat on top of your Apple’s Macintosh and delivered 320-x-240 black-and-white images at 15 frames per second for $100.

In a rare 2015 interview, Ringley told Gimlet Media’s Reply All podcast that she found herself at a loss for what to do with her impulse purchase and ming skills to the test. She rigged her webcam to constantly record candid stills from inside her dorm room and upload a new image every 15 minutes to her site, .

That honor belonged to a coffee pot at Cambridge University, but she was the first to give the world 24-hour access to her private life via the internet. For the next seven years, Ringley streamed her daily life, uncut and uncensored for an audience of millions of strangers.

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She would become something of an internet phenomenon, a precursor to the unvarnished YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram celebrities of today. Continue reading Ringley wasn’t the first subject of an experiment in webcamming