In many ways, it’s perfect as the first photo on the Internet. There’s something undeniably ’90s Web about it – bad font, graded monochrome background, and women in an alluring pose. All it needs is to be on a GeoCities page with a few flashing links, and there it is – vintage Internet.
The photograph above was indeed the first photo ever uploaded to the Internet, according to a report by Motherboard. The women pictured were part of a comedy band known as Les Horribles Cernettes – yes, that’s a reference to CERN, the same laboratory that may have discovered the Higgs boson a little over a week ago.
The CERN laboratory, in Geneva, Switzerland, was one of the many birthplaces of the modern Internet – the World Wide Web. Way back in 1992, the Internet was limited to use by physicists trying to collaborate on research projects – the intended purpose of the Internet. That’s why this picture is so significant – it was the first time the Internet was used for something frivolous. Shockingly, it would not be the last.
Les Horribles Cernettes were made up of wives and girlfriends of scientists and administrative assistants, which colored their brand of comedy – frequently enough, lamentations of getting cast aside by their lovers thanks to the sensual temptations of science. One of the scientists at the laboratory, Tim Berners-Lee, took a liking to the group, and once he and his colleagues had updated the young Internet to a version that could support image files, he slapped this .gif on a page promoting the band, and history was made.
Thus, the wild, inelegant, and always amusing Web of the ’90s was born.