The first beam of protons circulated around an ancestor to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN 50 years ago today.

The CERN Electron Storage and Accumulation Ring (known as 'Cesar') was a crucial stepping stone to building particle accelerators and colliders, eventually leading to the LHC and its ground-breaking particle physics.

The machine was first booted up on 18 December 1963, when the first beam circulated around its meagre 24-metre circumference.

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As the picture above shows, it was a far cry from the 27-kilometre long LHC, which is the highest-energy collider ever made and generally considered to be one of mankind's greatest engineering achievements.

But it was also a critical development, leading directly to the development of other machines that themselves paved the way for the LHC itself.

Cesar was eventually dismanted in 1968.

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  • Large Hadron Collider exhibition

    Nobel laureate Professor Peter Higgs at the Science Museum, London, ahead of the opening of the the museum's new "Collider" exhibition, which gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and Cern particle physics laboratory in Geneva.

  • FILE - In this March 22, 2007 file picture, the magnet core of the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet (CMS, Compact Muon Solenoid), one of the experiments preparing to take data at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)'s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator is seen, near Genva, Switzerland. The head of the world's biggest atom smasher is claiming discovery of a new particle that he says is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson known popularly as the "God particle" which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape. The results of the experiment will be announced Wednesday July 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Keystone/Martial Trezzini, File)

  • In this 2005 photo provided by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, technicians check the magnets that will direct protons towards the target for the CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso (CNGS) project in Geneva. The project team, a collaboration between France's National Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics Research and Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory, fired a neutrino beam 454 miles (730 kilometers) underground from Geneva to Italy. They found it traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than light. That's sixty billionth of a second, a time no human brain could register. Physicists on the team said Friday Sept. 23, 2011 they were as surprised as their skeptics about the results, which appear to violate the laws of nature as we know them. (AP Photo/CERN)

  • FILE - In this March 22, 2007 file photo, the magnet core of the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet (CMS, Compact Muon Solenoid) is shown in Geneva, Switzerland. The world's largest atom smasher set a record for high-energy collisions on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by crashing proton beams into each other at three times more force than ever before. In a milestone in the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider's ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts. (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini, File)

  • FILE - In this May 31, 2007 file photo, a view of the LHC (large hadron collider) in its tunnel at CERN (European particle physics laboratory) near Geneva, Switzerland is shown. The world's largest atom smasher set a record for high-energy collisions on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by crashing proton beams into each other at three times more force than ever before. In a milestone in the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider's ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts. (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini, File)

  • Large Hadron Collider Exhibition

    BERLIN - OCTOBER 14: Workers walk past a giant photograph of a part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the 'Weltmaschine '('World Machine') exhibition on October 14, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition documents the LHC and is on display at the Bundestag U-Bahn station from October 15 through November 16. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

  • A scientist is seen at the European Orga

    A scientist is seen at the European Organization for Nuclear Research's (CERN) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Computing Grid room during its inauguration on October 3, 2008 in Geneva. The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid combines the power of more than 140 computer centers in 33 countries that process more than 15 million Gigabytes of data every year produced from the hundreds of millions of subatomic collisions expected inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) every second. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cern - Research Center

    GENEVA - JUNE 16: A model of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel is seen in the CERN (European Organization For Nuclear Research) visitors' center June 16, 2008 in Geneva-Meyrin, Switzerland. CERN is building the world's biggest and most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC is being installed in a tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference, buried 50 - 150 meters below ground. It will provide collisions at the highest energies ever observed in laboratory conditions. Four huge detectors - ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCB - will observe the collisions so that the physicists can explore new territory in matter, energy, space and time. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

  • Cern - Research Center

    GENEVA - JUNE 16: The older UAI central detector is displayed in the CERN (European Organization For Nuclear Research) visitors' center on June 16, 2008 in Geneva-Meyrin, Switzerland. CERN is building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's biggest and most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC is being installed in a tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference, buried 50 - 150 meters below ground. It will provide collisions at the highest energies ever observed in laboratory conditions. Four huge detectors - ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCB - will observe the collisions so that the physicists can explore new territory in matter, energy, space and time. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

  • An engineer works to assemble, 22 Mars 2

    Geneva, SWITZERLAND: An engineer works to assemble, 22 Mars 2007, near Geneva, one of the layers of the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet (CMS), one of the experiments preparing to take data at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)'s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particule accelerator which is scheduled to switch on in next November 2007. CMS physicists will address some of nature's most fundamental question. Some 2000 scientists from 155 institutes in 36 countries are worlking together to build the CMS particle detector. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • (FILES) A file photo on April 26, 2007 p

    (FILES) A file photo on April 26, 2007 provided by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) shows a large dipole magnet symbolically lowered into the tunnel, in Geneva, to mark the end of a crucial phase of installation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The world's biggest atom-smasher, shut down after its inauguration in September 2008 amid technical faults, restarted on Friday, a spokesman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research said. Nestled inside a 27-km long tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, the LHC promises to unlock scientific mysteries about the creation of the Universe and the fundamental nature of matter. AFP PHOTO / HO / CERN (Photo credit should read CERN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo shows a giant magnet weighing 1920

    Geneva, SWITZERLAND: Photo shows a giant magnet weighing 1920 tonnes 28 February, 2007 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. The magnet was sent underground where it will rest 100 metres down in a 27km tunnel to provide a magnetic field for a giant particle detector. The detector will collect data for a particle accelerator known the Large Hadron Collider (LCH), which is scheduled to be turned in November 2007. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo shows a giant magnet weighing 1920

    Geneva, SWITZERLAND: Photo shows a giant magnet weighing 1920 tonnes 28 February, 2007 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. The magnet was sent underground where it will rest 100 metres down in a 27km tunnel to provide a magnetic field for a giant particle detector. The detector will collect data for a particle accelerator known the Large Hadron Collider (LCH), which is scheduled to be turned in November 2007. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)