Lenna is a standard test image whose rise in computer nerd popularity led her to become the first JPEG compression file ever created. The picture was chosen spontaneously in 1972 when engineers were searching for a high gloss image of a human face and someone walked in with an issue of Playboy. The tech engineers couldn’t resist and so the photo was cropped and scanned at the University of Southern California image processing lab and Lenna went on to become a staple of the imaging and later digital imaging world.
‘Lenna’ is actually Lena Söderberg – her name was anglicised by Playboy.
Lena Soderberg posed as a centerfold in the November 1972 issue of Playboy. Notorious for enforcing copyright laws, Playboy has intentionally ignored the excessive copyright infringement of the 5.12″ x 5.12″ image. In May 2006 the company reported the Soderberg issue as the best selling Playboy of all time.
There’s lots more information on Wikipedia’s page about ‘Lenna’ and yet more at lenna.org. The original image is still available as part of the USC SIPI Image Database in their ‘miscellaneous’ collection.
Here’s the original Lena Soderberg spread from the November 1972 issue of Playboy. This became their most popular issue ever, selling 7,161,561 copies.