Animated GIF soon to be 30 years old
Unless you are some sort of time traveler from the past you sure do know what GIFs are and you came across them a thousand times. Yes, GIFs are those funny and cute moving images that loop endlessly, never letting you interfere with them in any way except emotionally reacting to their or just sharing them. That is one of the reasons why they became one of the most popular forms of personal expressions on the Internet.
You know that saying “the picture is worth a thousand words”? Probably you do. In that case, we can easily say that GIFs are worth a billion 😀
In case you are a millennial or whatever you are called nowadays, and have no idea about GIF development, interesting turning points etc – here we will cover some highlights of GIF 29 year long history along with choice of most popular or some our favorite GIFs to illustrate the point.
Short history of GIFs
As we already know, this file format has become a default brand of web humor, alongside impact-font memes and viral YouTube videos. But what does GIF stands for? It is Graphic Interchange Format. It’s just an acronym.
How do you pronounce GIF?
If you are like most people you are probably saying it with hard g (like in word graphic) but developers who made it prefer soft g (like in giant). However, pronunciation with a hard g is now very widespread and readily understood.
When GIF was born?
As we said, almost 30 years ago. So GIF is not too old but Internet was in stone age back then. Connection to the Ineternet was through 56 kbit/s modem. And please note that 56 kilobyte per second was maximum theoretical transfer speed!
So, first GIFs were small, simple and goofy. Yet, they were funny! Some of the most popular were ones with flames or with waving USA flag.
Special, and huge category was “under construction”. Take a look at this site to peek into impressive collection of “under construction” GIFs.
Then, at 1995-1996 came around browsers that could automatically animate so things became more like this:
One of the most popular GIFs on WEB 1.0 probably was that of a dancing baby. It became globally popular via e-mail chains in 1996 and represents baby dancing to the intro of “Hooked on a Feeling” by the Swedish rock band Blue Swede. Later it was used in tv-show Ally McBeal.
You sure must have stumbled upon this one already.
More about early GIFs you can find in video here.
GIFs in modern Internet era
When WEB 2.0 was introduced around 2000s, using GIFs stopped being cool thing to do and this trend was around till 2007-2008. Then, people realized a massive potential that GIFs have and that they could be used in a tons of different ways.
And then, suddenly, people started using GIFs as a way to express their creativity, to be ironical, funny, sarcastic… At the same time Tumblr and Reddit came along as online communities that were extremely GIF friendly so people could easily share their GIFs.
And GIF art exploded
So, now you have all sorts of GIFs: glitch GIFs, movie GIFs, TV show GIFs, pixel-art GIFs, artsy GIFs and so on, and so on. Some of their main characteristics became their the great advantages: they can’t be stopped or paused (unlike videos) so people have to watch it when they stumble upon one, they are short and hypnotically repetitive and they are easy to make.
And did you know that the GIF was chosen for the USA word of the year for 2012? Enough said. Let’s enjoy some examples.
Pixel art GIFs:
Movie and TV show GIFs that can be used in variety of situations depending on a context. Like for this clapping from Citizen Kane movie. It can goes as really supportive when someone say or do something truly great but can also be painfully ironical.
GIFs became post-modern, as well as art. Wait, GIFs are art. Wait… well. Yes. They undoubtedly are.
Some of the GIFs became memes.
If we forget about funny side of GIFs for a moment we will see there is much more to them. They can be used to criticize some political or social issues and to raise awareness about important topics.
Or just capture hilarious moments from everyday life.
And off course, lets not forget about dear Nicolas Cage :))