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The tokens can also be used to buy videos or souvenirs of the model.

The websites provide the transactional platform, and then collects and distributes a percentage of the tips to the models.

The term webcam is a clipped compound used to combine the terms video camera and World Wide Web.

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And in the early 20th century sociologist Paul Cressey noted that within the hundreds of taxi-dance halls of America, "the traffic in romance and in feminine society" would become available when taxi dancers would offer their companionship and "the illusion of romance" for ten cents a dance.

Much of the success of camming owes to its ability to move beyond the borders of erotic video performance, and into the everyday social lives of camming customers, or fans as they are known.

Camgirls will frequently read and respond to the scrolling viewer comments.

However this is not the first time that conversational interaction had become a boon for the erotic entertainment industry.

Todd Blatt, who once produced pornographic movies in California and has several Ferraris to show for it, declared: "If you’re the middle guy who has been eating off this industry for 20 years, it’s a big change.

The girls don’t need anybody." Once viewed as a small niche in the world of adult entertainment, camming today has become "the engine of the porn industry", according to Alec Helmy, the publisher of XBIZ, a sex-trade industry journal. Theresa Senft herself became a camgirl for a year while doing four years of research for her 2008 book entitled, Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks.

However Amanda made an important early discovery that would influence the camming industry for decades to come – that a website's popularity could be greatly increased by enabling viewers to chat with a performer while online.

Since the early days of live webcasts by Ringley and Amanda, the phenomenon of camming has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry which has an average of at least 12,500 cam models online at any given time and more than 240,000 viewers at any given time.

In 1996 an American college student and conceptual artist, Jenny Ringley, created a website called "Jenni Cam." Her web camera was located in her dorm room and automatically photographed her every few minutes.

The camera captured Ringley doing almost everything – brushing her teeth, doing her laundry, doing stripteases – and then broadcast its images live over the Internet.

Camming websites typically fall into two main categories, dependent upon whether their video chat rooms are free or private.

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