An Internet protocol camera , or IP camera , is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance , and which, unlike analog closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Although most cameras that do this are webcams , the term "IP camera" or "netcam" is usually applied only to those used for surveillance that can be directly accessed over a network connection.
An IP camera is typically either centralized (requiring a central network video recorder (NVR) to handle the recording, video and alarm management) or decentralized (no NVR needed, as camera can record to any local or remote storage media). The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications.
IP cameras are typically available at resolutions from 0.3 ( VGA resolution) to 29 megapixels.  As in the consumer TV business, in the early 21st century, there has been a shift towards high-definition video resolutions, e.g. 720p or 1080i and 16:9 widescreen format.
The first decentralized IP camera was released in 1999 by Mobotix. The camera's Linux system contained video, alarm, and recording management functions, thus the camera system did not require licensed video management software to manage the recording event, or video management. 
The first IP camera with onboard video content analytics ( VCA ) was released in 2005 by Intellio. This camera was able to detect a number of different events, such as if an object was stolen, a human crossed a line, a human entered a predefined zone, or if a car moved in the wrong direction.