25 Years Today, the First-Ever Photo was Posted to the World Wide Web

Back in 1992, the Internet was still a place for scientists and computer wonks. It would be a few more years before the World Wide Web would be ready for prime time. But this didn’t mean those who were building the Net couldn’t have some fun.

On July 18, 1992, a photo was posted online for the first time. This was it.

Les Horribles Cernettes–“The Horrible CERN Girls”–were four women associated with the boffins at CERN, the massive particle physics facility in Europe. The group was founded in 1990 by Michele de Gennaro who worked there as a graphic designer. When her relationship with a CERN scientist started to go off the rails because of his weird work shifts, she wrote and performed a song at a staff function.

A full group soon coalesced around Michele. Scientists and particle physics fans went wild when the group performed at scientific conferences and events throughout Europe. Even the New York Times paid attention.

On July 18, 1992, they made history. Michele remembers:

“Back in 1992, after their show at the CERN Hardronic Festival, my colleague Tim Berners-Lee asked me for a few scanned photos of ‘the CERN girls’ to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented, called the ‘World Wide Web.’ I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim’s now famous ‘info.cern.ch.’ How was I to know that I was passing a historical milestone, as the one above was the first picture of a band ever to be clicked on in a web browser!”

Other songs by the group included titles like “Daddy’s Lab,” “My Sweetheart is a Nobel Prize” and “Strong Interaction.” That last one is a four fundamental forces pun, of course.

Note that Les Horrible Cernettes can be abbreviated as LHC, the same initials as the Large Hadron Collider, which was later built by CERN.

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