Like Instagram influencers or You Tube makers, today's webcam models need little more than a strong Wi Fi connection and an internet-connected camera to make a living.

Signing up for services like My Free Cams, Flirt4Free, or Chaturbate, which are essentially platforms like Facebook or Snapchat, is simple.

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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 Quick Cam, 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.

She arrived at our interview on a sweltering Friday morning in a hotel suite on the Las Vegas strip with a small entourage of two other budding social media influencers, Amber Vixx and Stefanie Joy (also not their names).

After our interview, she and her friends will probably hit the pool at a local apartment complex and do what millennials do: eat pizza and play out their lives in front of tiny, portable cameras.

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We were in this incredibly desperate world where we had all moved away from home, we weren't with the kids that grew up with.

We weren't with our families, and we were in this huge world of billions of people, and we needed to create our little tribes."People in the adult camming business consistently draw the connection between online social networks like Facebook and the work that they do.

For the next seven years, Ringley streamed her daily life, uncut and uncensored for an audience of millions of strangers.

She would become something of an internet phenomenon, a precursor to the unvarnished You Tube, Snapchat and Instagram celebrities of today.

Kelly Holland, owner and CEO of Penthouse, says beyond driving profits, the adult entertainment industry and social networks are serving the same basic need."Cams are the adult industry's response to Facebook, frankly," Holland says. It became what it was, I would tell you, not through Zuckerberg's brilliance, but because it was just the right thing at the right time.