Way back at the start of the digital age, the first photo to be ever uploaded onto the internet, has now reached its 20th year anniversary.
The photo, taken by Silvano de Gennaro, was of an all female parody pop group who were based in Geneva at the CERN laboratory and was named Les Horribles Cernettes.
Gennaro was an IT developer at research institute CERN and passed the photo onto his colleague Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and a fan of the band. The purpose for the photo was a CD cover for the band however it reached an extremely small audience. De Gennaro stated, “I had many more people seeing that photo on the posters around CERN”. However despite the size of the audience the photo reached, the world changed and the internet had been revolutionized.
The photo was uploaded in a .GIF format and in spite of being the first photo to be uploaded the process was completed without difficulty. The image had an important significance in the shift in the purpose of the network. Before then the internet had been marketed a to a niche audience of mostly physic labs in order to allow scientists worldwide to collaborate.
This was the beginning of advertising and promotional use on the internet, which would later take up a huge proportion of it. Jean Francois Groff, who was a programmer on the web project was handed the file by Berners Lee and was happy to work with it. “Sex sells!” Groff said, “It’s media. You put a pretty girl in the media, people will notice the media.”
The image and its format, has of course been cast into history by the ever changing and revolutionising world of technology. Kelsey Leslie, Harvard photo historian says, “It’s interesting- particularly for those of us who are relative old timers – to realize that this technology, which still feels so new, already has its own kind of archaeology now”.