First Image on the Internet
February 17, 2005 5:06 PM   Subscribe

What was the first image posted on the internet? I'm sure it was research related, but what was it?
posted by gtmcknight to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Are you asking about the internet as a whole (including FTP sites, UseNet News, etc.), or are you asking about on the WWW? I'm assuming the latter, since that's what people usually mean when they say "on the internet." (I'm not trying to be pedantic; it's actually important.)

If you really are asking about the first image posted to the WWW, that'll be tough to track down, but I'd be willing to bet it was directly related to the project that created the WWW as we know it today. You can read more about the history here.

That should at least give you a place to start, if it doesn't actually lead you to the first image itself. (The page has the URL of one of the first actual pages, I guess, but the server it lived on no longer exists.)
posted by ibidem at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2005

My guess would be something similar to this Mosaic logo. I believe Mosaic was the first graphical browser, so it would stand to reason their homepage / startup page would have the first image. The original browser was only for X, so it wouldn't have been that exact logo though.

HTML 1.0 didn't even have an IMG tag.
posted by smackfu at 5:51 PM on February 17, 2005

Well, if you believe Wikipedia, this was it. Wired backs this up though it's difficult to determine who got their information from whom.
When Tim Berners-Lee was writing the software to serve GIF files, he asked co-worker Silvano de Gennaro for a few pictures of the singers. One of the band photos was among the first five pictures published on the Web.
posted by jessamyn at 5:59 PM on February 17, 2005

That might be the first "photo" and it makes for a cute image.
But here's a snapshot from Berners-Lee's desktop on a browser that preceded Mosaic. The first image was probably an unsexy CERN logo.

I guess it comes down to fuzzy definitions of when "The Web" really started.
posted by vacapinta at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2005

If you literally mean "internet" as distinct from "web," we're talking about a time prior to the common availability of modern graphical displays. The first "image" was probably a file, transmitted by email or ftp, containing ASCII art intended to be printed out on a line printer. Such things were common in computer labs prior to the Internet. But I don't know how you would find the first such file transmitted.
posted by bac at 6:31 PM on February 17, 2005

I'm thinking the "apache is loaded" graphic. That actually isn't it but it's damn hard to find on Google - they probably (wisely) ignore that page whenever they see it. I'm sure this wasn't far behind. :)
posted by scarabic at 6:35 PM on February 17, 2005

awesome, thanks everyone! it was mainly out of sheer curiosity (doh! i should check wikipedia more often)
posted by gtmcknight at 6:59 PM on February 17, 2005

scarabic: Of course, apache was based on the NSCA (or whatever) browser, so I doubt that was the first image.

Also, I'm really shocked at how many people here don't seem to understand the diffrence between the world wide web and the internet!!!1
posted by delmoi at 7:17 PM on February 17, 2005

As other posters have mentioned, "earliest image posted on the internet" has a lot of possible answers depending on the what exactly you are looking for. As ibidem mentioned, the earliest image on the internet was probably retrieved in the early 1980's using an FTP client. As jessamyn mentioned, the earliest image retrieved via web browser is likely Les Horribles Cernettes in 1992. However, I can offer another possibility. I believe I can identify the first publicly available image to appear inline on a web page via an IMG tag.

On the February 25, 1993 Marc Andreessen proposed the IMG tag. A little over two weeks later on March 14, 1993 he announced the release of beta version 0.10 of NCSA Mosaic supporting the IMG tag and the X bitmap and GIF image file formats. At the same time he posted a link to page demonstrating the new IMG tag. An archived copy of that page is here. The image links on that page are broken, but the images are still available. For example the largest image on that image is an X Bitmap image of Dan Quale.
posted by RichardP at 7:27 PM on February 17, 2005

I'm impressed that modern browsers can even display X Bitmaps.
posted by smackfu at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2005

well as everyone figured out i did mean the world wide web. sorry, jeez. i admit i use the two interchangably. when i think file transfer i think ftp, when i think web i think internet.
posted by gtmcknight at 7:54 PM on February 17, 2005

The first image on the page that RichardP linked to (with the broken images) is this. I like it.
posted by neckro23 at 11:51 PM on February 17, 2005

Actually, it's
posted by donth at 10:00 AM on February 18, 2005

Actually, it's

How prophetic.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:13 AM on February 18, 2005

This question was recently discussed at (on February 25th).
[Warning: low signal to noise ratio.]
posted by WestCoaster at 10:11 PM on February 26, 2005

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