Remember the test image with the beauty that we used in image processing course? The gorgeous siren? The famous Lena image? Today I learned the history behind the image. From http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~chuck/lennapg/ .
From the link…
For the curious: ‘lena’ or ‘lenna’ is a digitized Playboy centerfold, from November 1972. (Lenna is the spelling in Playboy, Lena is the Swedish spelling of the name.) Lena Soderberg (ne Sjööblom) was last reported living in her native Sweden, happily married with three kids and a job with the state liquor monopoly. In 1988, she was interviewed by some Swedish computer related publication, and she was pleasantly amused by what had happened to her picture. That was the first she knew of the use of that picture in the computer business.
Alexander Sawchuk estimates that it was in June or July of 1973 when he, then an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the USC Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI), along with a graduate student and the SIPI lab manager, was hurriedly searching the lab for a good image to scan for a colleague’s conference paper. They had tired of their stock of usual test images, dull stuff dating back to television standards work in the early 1960s. They wanted something glossy to ensure good output dynamic range, and they wanted a human face. Just then, somebody happened to walk in with a recent issue of Playboy.
The engineers tore away the top third of the centerfold so they could wrap it around the drum of their Muirhead wirephoto scanner, which they had outfitted with analog-to-digital converters (one each for the red, green, and blue channels) and a Hewlett Packard 2100 minicomputer. The Muirhead had a fixed resolution of 100 lines per inch and the engineers wanted a 512 x 512 image, so they limited the scan to the top 5.12 inches of the picture, effectively cropping it at the subject’s shoulders.
Another interesting piece of trivia is that Lenna’s issue (November 1972) was Playboy’s best selling issue ever and sold 7,161,561 copies.
P.S the link also contains the complete centerfold image, defintely NSFW.