This Is The First Internet Image

First Internet Image

[The original photo. From left to right: Angela Higney, Michele de Gennaro, Colette Marx-Neilsen, Lynn Veronneau]

Above is the first photograph image that has ever been uploaded to the Internet.  The image was created to sell music.  Next Wednesday on July 18th, the photograph at the center of the image will be turning 20.  The photo is a promotional shot for comedy band Les Horribles Cernettes based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva.

“It’s sort of terrible and charming,” said Aperture Foundation photo scholar Lesley Martin.

“They’re always semi-accidental and seemingly inconsequential at the time,” added Martin. “The first photos are always, from the perspective of a sophisticated viewer today, somewhat non-events and of non-subjects.”

Silvano de Gennaro, the photographer, took the photo.  He was an IT developer at CERN who worked near Tim Berners-Lee and other Internet inventors.  But “I didn’t know what the Web was,” recalled Gennaro.

Twenty years ago on July 18th, Gennaro was backstage at the Hardronic Music Festival, an annual event being thrown by CERN’s administrators and was waiting for the Cernettes.  He managed the Cernettes and wrote their songs.

He was waiting for them to come on stage and wanted a picture for their next CD cover so he told four of the members to lean in and smile.  He took the photo with a Canon EOS 650.  “When history happens, you don’t know that you’re in it,” de Gennaro said.

So why was the Cernettes the first image uploaded to the Internet?  This is partially because Tim Berners-Lee was into crossdressing.  “I don’t know whether I should be telling you this, but he worked at CERN and I saw him because he was part of our pantomime in our amateur operatic society,” said Colette Marx-Nielsen, a Cernettes member.  “He was the dame dressed as a woman.”

De Gennaro and Michele, his girlfriend from back then was heavily involved in the dramatic society and became friends with Berners-Lee there.  Berners-Lee became a big fan of the Cernettes.

Some of the songs created by the Cernettes include “Liquid Nitrogen”“My Sweetheart’s a Nobel Prize”, and “Collider.”

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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