The image: The particulars of history can be very mundane, says the Huffington Post. The first photo ever taken was of an obscured rooftop, the first television broadcast was of a ventriloquist's dummy, and the first photograph ever uploaded to the World Wide Web was this: A poorly Photoshopped promo still for a little-known female comedy band called Les Horribles Cernettes. (Take a look at right and below.) The photograph was uploaded to the web on July 18, 1992, when CERN (yes, that CERN) IT developer Silvano de Gennaro uploaded the GIF file using the now-famous HTTP protocol that birthed the web pages most of us use to access the internet today. "The web, back in '92 and '93, was exclusively used by physicists," says de Gennaro, who admits he "didn't know what the web was." The Cernettes, composed of administrative assistants and significant others of CERN scientists, wrote cheesy doo-wop songs about physics. As a joke, Gennaro superimposed the foursome onto a sky-blue background using Photoshop 1.0 on his color Mac. "When history happens," he said, "you don't know that you're in it."
The reaction: It's "terrible and charming," photo scholar Lesley Martin tells Motherboard. So-called "first" photos are always "semi-accidental and seemingly inconsequential." This case is no exception. Yeah, it's remarkably bad, says Network World, but back then, no one could've guessed that an album cover for an obscure comedy band would eventually "snowball into about 300 million daily photos uploaded to Facebook alone." You're all looking at this the wrong way, says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET. Not only is the shot "iconic," but it represents a giant leap forward to the LOLcat internet economy we know today. The playful symbolism behind that isn't something to take lightly. "The file was a GIF. The shot was a gift."
Take a look:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers
Subscribe to the Week