Content Marketing Specialist

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The GIF Turns 30

Ahh, the GIF. It feels like such an iconic piece of the last decade that it’s hard to believe it’s almost as old as I am.

The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) began in the 1980s primarily as a method to overcome the fact that each PC manufacturer’s computers displayed graphics in a different way. They weren’t always the looping animations we’ve come to love. In fact, the animated GIF standard you know and love today didn’t come around until 1995. (Brought to you by the same team who created the Netscape browser!)

As Internet speeds improved, jpgs took over as the dominant method of displaying still images, and more sophisticated video and animation was accomplished by things like HTML5. But the animated GIF lived on in a different way, and had a surge of popularity somewhere around 2012, shortly before Oxford Dictionaries named “GIF” the word of the year. In 2013, a debate over pronunciation caught the internet by storm when the creator of the GIF informed everyone that it is pronounced “Jif” (Side note – most of the Internet rejects this pronunciation.)

And that brings us to today, 2017. The still image requirement is dominated by jpg and png. Looping animations are often HTML5. But the gif lives on as a visual language, serving as a way of adding a little something extra to texts, emails, instant messages, and more. As the founder of the gif search engine Giphy said “The easiest, simplest thing wins.”

Here’s everyone in the Venture Creations office’s favorite gif:

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