How a Science-Themed All-Girl Doo-Wop Group Became the First Image on the World Wide Web

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Behold, the first photographic image ever published on the World Wide Web. Quite the honor for unknown science-themed doo-wop group. It helps, of course, when your group is founded by a quartet of CERN employees — and when one of your songwriters is pals with a young Tim Berners-Lee, who happened to be working on some then little-known information distribution system.

Les Horribles Cernettes — that’s french for The Horrible CERN Girls — was founded by a graphic designer Michele de Gennaro at the European research facility back in 1990, after performing a number called “Collider” on stage at a CERN Festival, boasting such lines as “you don’t go out with other girls either / You only love your collider.”

Gennaro recruited fellow CERN employees Angela Higney, Colette Marx-Neilsen and Lynn Veronneau for the girl group. The quartet would go on to perform songs like “My Sweetheart is a Nobel Prize,” “Computer Games” and “Microwave Love” at a number of international scientific gatherings and the World’92 Expo in Seville.

But it’s the above promotional image that would ultimately serve as the band’s lasting legacy. On his personal website , CERN analyst turned Cernette songwriter Silvano de Gennaro explains his role in helping the band achieve immortality as the first graphic transmission on the greatest communication system in human history:

“Back in 1992, after their show at the CERN Hardronic Festival, my colleague Tim Berners-Lee asked me for a few scanned photos of “the CERN girls” to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented, called the “World Wide Web”. I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim’s now famous “info.cern.ch”.

The group only officially disbanded in the summer of 2012, after one final show at the CERN Hardronic Festival.

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