The history of the Internet café dates back to the late 1980s when the very first cafe, called Electronic Café, opened in Seoul South Korea. The café provided Internet service via two computers connected through telephone lines to an online service.
This innovative establishment was 2 to 3 years ahead of other countries and although by today’s standards the service was fairly basic it was obviously the start of something that has now become incredibly popular and common place. Gambling on such an edgy new idea at the start of the Internet phenomenon obviously paid off and today Internet cafés, or cybercafés as they are often called, are literally everywhere around the world. And they have become a staple in many cities, helping those who can not afford to have a computer at home as well as those traveling and in need of quick use of a computer.
By 1991 the United States saw it’s first coffee houses that supplied Internet access for the public. Wayne Gregori installed 25 computer terminals, that were coin operated, in coffee houses throughout the San Francisco Bay area. This was just the beginning, after the first ones saw success many other cafes in the area and then all through the states began to use them and to open up more and more of these kinds of coffee shops.
The name cybercafé was invented by Ivan Pope early in the year 1994 when the concept of a full Internet access café was developed. This initially began as a concept for the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London but soon inspired other such cafés to evolve in this direction. Following such developments other European countries followed suit and soon cyber cafés were springing up all over Europe in countries like Finland.
Today the longest running internet café in the UK is CB1 café in Cambridge which was established in early 1995. The early 90s saw the growth of the internet and the subsequent interest in such establishments in Canada and the United States, initially in Toronto,Texas and the East Village area of New York City.
It wasn’t long before the need for such services was recognized in far more out of the way areas and in 1996 Surf City opened in the Alaskan city of Anchorage.
Not surprisingly the internet cafés became incredibly popular with people traveling, especially those international travelers who needed to conduct business all around the world and before the advent of compact and efficient forms of internet access. We now readily accept that we can own or lease equipment that will allow us to have instant connections at high speed all around the world but back in the 1990s it was not the case. Further more these devices are easily portable and affordable for many more people than when computers were the only means to make such connections. Back in the day therefore it was super convenient for the ordinary working person or just member of the public to visit an internet café and pay to use the shared equipment and software.
Today it is not unusual to see internet kiosks in public places such as railway stations, airports and public libraries so that with the minimum need for space and resources a service for the passing public to make quick connections or perform speedy communications is made available. Similarly it is not uncommon to find internet kiosks along major highways so that those on particularly long journeys may have access at various truck stops.
With the increased popularity, and later dependency on the internet for business and communication in general, it was not surprising to see that internet access became an important feature of the hospitality industry.
Hotels began advertising this service as an attractive feature of their establishments and cruise ships might well feature their own internet café on board ship as an extra feature, especially for those patrons who like to stay connected even when they’re taking a break! With the natural development and accessibility of the internet so the traditional café evolved to provide the services mentioned and create a vibe and experience all of their own.
Owners quick to pick up on the new trend could customize their establishments and appeal to the technological set whilst still being cool and trendy! As with many things the purest form of the internet café has become somewhat diluted and has even seen a decline especially in some European countries where regulations and the prolific use of personal devices such as phones and tablets leaves them under used and often closed down.
Some enterprising owners have however been quick to see the next trend and the use of the internet café for group gaming purposes is prolific especially in Asian countries. In addition the transition from internet café to sweepstakes parlor became a viable alternative for many establishments with the increased popularity of online gambling.
Now people were going to internet cafes for the soul purpose of trying their luck at the many different online games that have become popular. I often play games online and on the top of my list is minecraft, plarium and pokerstarscasino.
Nevertheless this serves to illustrate that the demands and subsequent services have increasingly evolved and it remains to be seen in what form the next generation café presents itself.