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Tuesday, 17 July 2012


So what about Les Horribles Cernettes? That happens to be—cue drum roll, please—the very first photograph ever published on the Internet, a more twenty years and a few days ago.

Can I be ultra-pedantic and say that this was the first photograph on the World Wide Web, not on the Internet? The WWW came into being at CERN about 20 years ago, hence the historical significance of the photograph.

But the Internet existed long before the WWW (which runs on the Internet using the http protocol), and there were certainly photographs accessible via pre-http Internet protocols, like ftp, gopher and others long forgotten.

[Thanks John. Fixed now. —Ed.]

Les Horribles Cernettes!

I did not know that. But that's a piece of history.

The initials of the group are L.H.C. as in Large Hadron Collider!.

Small correction: the Cernettes photo was the first photo on the WWW ("World Wide Web"), which is a part of, but not "The Internet." The Internet had been around for quite a while before the WWW, and there were countless other images on it.

Of note, and what makes this even more interesting, is that CERN did all that while it was creating the LHC, which proved the Higgs Boson that has been in the news lately.

So... how much was paid for that Monica photo then?

I'm not a Windoze user, so O'Rear's photo was unfamiliar to me in that context, but as the father of a young teen, it rang a bell. A quick search confirmed that I'm not the only person who made the connection: http://www.google.com/search?q=teletubbies&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=KKQFUPmQN8Ow2wWE5rDKBQ&ved=0CDYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1452&bih=914

The "Bliss" photo was taken with a medium format camera on film and that is all I can find out about it. Stated to be digitally unmanipulated, but I'm guessing the film was Fuji in conjunction with a polarizing filter. If so may we call it analog manipulation?

So now I am thinking about light's relationship to atoms: can Ctein help me out?

Ugh, the windows XP photo makes me shudder. I think it might actually be the strongest reaction that I have had to any of the photos you have posted.

Proof if any was needed that it is the context in which the viewer sees the photo that is the most important thing in influencing how they perceive it, I suppose. (and probably non-photos too)

"So... how much was paid for that Monica photo then?"

Anyone know Dirck? We could ask.

I seem to remember some discussion about this very issue back when I wrote about TIME magazine covers. But I don't think I ever knew the answer.

Whoops! Faulty memory again. Dirck himself told us he was paid $7,500 for that Monica Lewinsky cover shot. Here's the link.

Jeffrey Goggin pointed this out to me. Thanks to him.


Well, I was wrong. I was going to guess the shot of Les Horribles Cernettes was the first published use of Photoshop. Just sorta has that early-90s look, to me.

The Bliss photo had me fooled, too. For years I thought for sure that over-saturated and saccharine shot was digitally manipulated to appear that way. Velvia (or whatever) to the rescue!

Yes Mike, the Abraham Riesman's article on the first photo on the web is ok, but it mentions a couple of wrong facts. The first is when he writes "because Tim Berners-Lee was into crossdressing". See the comment of "Les Horrible Cernettes" on this: http://musiclub.web.cern.ch/MusiClub/bands/cernettes/disclaimer.html
The second is when he writes "the one that may have just discovered the Higgs boson". Might have discovered? We just did :-)


Interesting story. I never liked the image that much maybe due to its ubiquitous presence on each new PC I installed. The first thing I did was to remove this background for a plain background. That said, I can understand why this picture was chosen by Microsoft, it fitted the Luna theme (default Windows XP theme) with strong blue and green being dominants. Today it may seem a bit dated but at the time Windows, before XP, was mostly made of grey.

Well, I am surprised! The first photograph ever published on the web? It can't be! The ladies are wearing too much.

Les Horribles Cernettes! I remember following that story a couple of days ago as well as looking at their videos on YouTube. Here's one example:


I especially like the various places within CERN where they shoot the video: the accelerator, the server room (especially the Crays!)

As for the bliss photo: so many memories! For many reasons (mostly computer related) I never understood why it was called bliss. I also remember the original color scheme for XP. Bright orange, blue, green, and white. Ugh!


Thank you, thank you Mike for including that the atom photo was made in Australia. It was published on another science site recently but the Queensland uni connection was not mentioned. Omitted. Forgotten.

Top science is being done here. Top medical research. Our economy is going great guns. We have no recessions or bank scandals here. We are a decent, honest, clever, humane society. Yes, we have faults, but we are powering through while the so called elite countries are stumbling and sinking. You just overlook us, look askance at us. OK, see you in the rear vision mirror.

I will also include NZ. New Zealand is also a great country, totally ignored by the elites. Well, ants bite. ANZ is a great combination. Best of the best.

I guess I'm so vocal on this because I foresee a firestorm coming. We in ANZ will be engulfed by the awful things happening in the northern hemisphere. Greed has overcome decency. Stop while you still can.

Edit as you like, Mike. I've had a beer or two.

What I enjoy most with this famous photo, is that it has an optical illusion that causes the shadows cast by the clouds to appear to be moving. I used to think it was animated in someway, until I realized it was just good ol' contrast effects. The illusion works best by looking at the right hand portion of the photo, the shadow will appear to be moving in your peripheral vision.

Yeah, I THOUGHT the Charles O'Rear photo was shot somewhere in that area of the world. Been through there many times, and it looked real familiar.

In fact, I think I may have photographed the same scene myself years ago, but mine didn't turn out as well. No clouds and shot from a less interesting angle.

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