First web image celebrated

2012-07-11 11:15

Cape Town - The internet is a multimedia experience for most users, but images were only introduced to the web in 1992.

On 18 July, scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) will celebrate the first picture uploaded on to the internet by programmer Jean-François Groff on instruction from Tim Berners-Lee, one of the inventors of the world wide web.

According to Motherboard, photographer Silvano de Gennaro took the picture of a girl band Cernettes whom he managed and wanted a picture for their CD cover.

After taking the picture it had to go through a laborious editing process and was eventually formatted in the .gif format, which was only five years old at the time.

A member of the girl band that enjoyed some popularity at Cern said that Berners-Lee was a friend and cross dresser.

Science collaboration

"I don't know whether I should be telling you this, but he [Berners-Lee] worked at Cern and I saw him because he was part of our pantomime in our amateur operatic society. He was the dame dressed as a woman," said Colette Marx-Nielsen, a Cernettes member.

The web at the time was mainly used for science collaboration and the image was a new frontier.

Groff said that the expansion of the internet demonstrated that the technology could be useful beyond academia.

"In order to convince management that we should connect Cern to the internet and not just to proprietary networks, we had to fight to convince them how useful it would be," he said.

"That's why we only put serious stuff on it. So it was kind of a revolution to say, 'Now let’s do something fun with it.'"

Here's a YouTube video of the Cernettes singing:

Internet communication was standardised in 1982 with the implementation of the Internet Protocol Suite which allowed connected computers to "talk" to each other and today, high speed fibre optic cables connect servers from the Americas to Europe and Africa.

Progress jumped after images and the first streaming video on the internet was one of band Severe Tire Damage performing online on 24 June 1993.

While costs to connect to the internet have declined significantly, it remains a barrier to entry and a large percentage of users, particularly in developing countries access the web via mobile phones.

Economic growth

The internet is also a facilitator of economic growth and World Bank statistics show that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration, there is a corresponding 0.8% increase in GDP.

Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have been urged to allocate spectrum for faster wireless networks as a way to increase GDP.

"Across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, by releasing the 2.6GHz digital dividend band for mobile broadband, by 2016, this could create an additional $82bn per year in net GDP [gross domestic product] across the region," Peter Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East told News24.

In the organisation's report, it found that the increase in GDP would result in $18bn in tax revenue across the region, leading to a potential reduction in poverty.

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Here is a YouTube video on the history of the internet: