For Dis-CERN-ing Eyes: The First Photo On the Web

Who are Angela Higney, Michele de Gennaro, Colette Marx-Neilsen and Lynn Veronneau (below, from left to right)? Chances are, you don’t know, but tyou can thank them, in part, every time you view a photo published on the Web.

The First Picture Uploaded to the Web

It seems that those wacky kids at the CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) Laboratory near Geneva, you know, Tim Berners-Lee and those wacky kids who actually did invent the World Wide web, had an annual talent show called The Hadronic Music Festival.  A popular “girl-group” there, made up of admins and significant others of scientists, was called “Les Horribles Cernettes‘ (LHC). On July 18, 1992 — 20 years ago today — their manager snapped this photo (title added and edited) for use on a soon-to-be-released album cover.

So when Tim Berners-Lee, a LHC fan, needed an image to load on to the latest version of the Web, one that would support photos, he turned to a nearby Mac that had the scanned in  .gif file of the LHC and used that one.

This was significant for two reasons: first, it showed that the Web (up until then used solely for science) could be used for fun; second, it became the precursor to what people like best on the Web today – graphics and visuals. Typically, hardware advances fuel software developments which in turn push the envelope spurring further hardware advances.  Like them or not, but online gaming and, yes, porn pushed hardware and operating system producers to make faster computers with more capacity for graphics and images.

So the next time you view a photo on Flickr, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest  or on a blog or any on any other page published across the WWW — think about the not-so-horrible Les Horribles Cernettes.

As for LHC? They’re still singing songs and breaking physicists’ hearts.

Oh, and if you think that it’s a coincidence that the worlds largest particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider being used to try to recreate the energy of the big bang that created the universe, has the initials LHC — think again.

Hat Tip: To Abraham Riesman and his article on Mother board
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