Ah, the GIF. If you love the Internet, you can’t help but love that wonderfully animated, comically compressed image file format. Officially called Graphics Interchange Format, the GIF turns 25 today and has come a long way from its humble GeoCities-plastered beginnings. It’s now catnip for the Internet.
It’s impressive how the GIF re-invented itself from spinning globes and police sirens on terrible 1990’s era sites (heh) to becoming the only form of online communication (non-video) that can truly translate emotion over the Internet. The GIF started out as one of the first two image file formats used on websites back in June 15, 1987 as a heavily compressed file format that supported up to eight bits per pixel (or a palette of up to 256 colours per frame). Think about that, what do you still use that was made in 1987?
Today, GIFs are used for bite-sized entertainment, short animated stories and can maybe even called “art”. We send GIFs to each other every day at Gizmodo and laugh, scream and tickle our brains with every one. Your friends probably do the same. And let’s be real, GIFs are probably half the reason why Tumblr even exists. There’s nothing that can bring a smile to the snarky, cynical, monitor-weathered face of a jaded Internet surfer quite like a great GIF can.
A good GIF, and anything is GIF-able these days, captures just enough of a specific moment to illustrate emotion yet leaves enough out to spark your curiosity. It’s a beautiful balance of amusement and wonder. Celebrate the GIF’s 25th birthday with your favourite GIFs.