Remembering Les Horribles Cernettes, the first band on the Web

The first photo on the Web wasn't a cat or a selfie. 

 

Audra Schroeder

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Published Jul 19, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 10:30 pm CDT

On July 18, 1992, the first photo ever was uploaded to the Web. It wasn’t a cat photo. It wasn’t a selfie. It was a band photo for CERN’s doo-wop band, Les Horribles Cernettes.

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The group was created by Michele Muller, who was working at CERN, Europe’s renowned particle physics lab, in the early ‘90s, and dating a CERN scientist. She became frustrated with the chaotic work schedule of a scientist, and decided to write a song. Thus, “Collider”: “I fill your screen with hearts and roses/I fill your mail file with lovely phrases/They all come back: “invalid user”/You never let me into your computer.”

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Muller eventually asked a few friends to join the group. According to the Les Horribles Cernettes website, which remains a glorious artifact of the early ‘90s, they sing about “colliders, quarks, microwaves, antiprotons and Internet.” Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova dug up a few of the songs from the CERN archives.

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, was working at CERN at the time. The first website was text-only, and Berners-Lee apparently wanted something visual for his new invention. After seeing LHC perform at CERN’s Hardronic Festival in 1992, he asked Muller’s boyfriend, Silvano de Gennaro, for a photo of the group, which he then scanned and uploaded to the Web on July 18, 1992. De Gennaro took this photo at the festival. 

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And, as Popova points out, Muller and de Gennaro ended up getting married

H/T Brain Pickings |Photo via CERN Music Club 

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*First Published: Jul 19, 2014, 5:41 pm CDT