Recently I did a project on Image Compression. One of our test images was a picture of a woman’s head. This picture.


We joked a little that this must be a particularly male subject to study, since it’d be hard to justify using a picture of a woman if there were lots of female students around (bloody feminists). But the truth runs deeper than that.

This page gives more of the story.

From the comp.compression FAQ, we can find that “Lenna” or “Lena” is a digitized Playboy centerfold, from November 1972.

In the Playboy and Wired News, we know that in the early Seventies Lenna’s Playboy centerfold was scanned in by an unknown researcher at the University of Southern California to use as a test image for digital image compression research. Since that time, images of the Playmate have been used as the industry standard for testing ways in which pictures can be manipulated and transmitted electronically. Over the past 25 years, no image has been more important in the history of imaging and electronic communications, and today the mysterious Lenna is considered the First Lady of the Internet.

Important stuff. But such a shame that the image is cropped. Not any more (NSFW link).

Blimey, me distributing pornography. Who’d have thunk it?

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