Yesterday we wished a happy birthday to the GIF – er, “jif.” You know what, forget it. We’re still going to call GIFs “GIFs” with the hard “G.”
June 15, 1987 marked the day that the GIF file format was born, and 26 years later, unbeknownst to Wilhite the GIF would become an cultural phenomenon, if not an obsession. We’d have to say that the mainstream spotlight on GIFs (the animated kind) has in part to do with Reddit, and later Tumblr, where you can’t go without reading through a thread or a blog that doesn’t include the file format somewhere. There are even blogs devoted entirely to animated GIF-only posts.
A quick history lesson: Steve Wilhite was working at CompuServe back in the late 80s when he developed a new “compact” 256 color image file format called 87a.
The point of this file type at the time was to enable users to download the color-based image files quickly, back when dial-up modems were a thing. Remember when you’d have to connect your phone line to get access to the Internet? How time flies. The next generation of GIFs was called 89a, and incorporated details to improve animations.
If you were an Internet user back in the early to late nineties, you’ll probably remember a number of animations that were actually images used in the GIF format. For instance you might remember when the creepy dancing baby and MC Hammer dancing GIFS made the rounds.
But back to 2013. GIFs are having a great run, even if its use is for an entirely different purpose than initially intended. So to celebrate the GIF’s 26th birthday, the one destination devoted entirely to searching for GIFs is celebrating in style. Giphy’s front page will be remixed to display birthday and party related GIFs and Giphy staffers will be up poupulating their Twitter and Tumblr with all-time favorite GIFs. Giphy tells us that they promise quality so if you have a folder devoted to collecting GIFs, whether you’re on Tumblr or a Redditor, this might be worth paying attention to.
Or you can use Google’s “Animated” search filter in Google’s Image Search in case you weren’t aware of it. Realizing the popularity of GIFs, Google launched the GIF-finding feature this year and added the ability to automatically create animated GIFs out of photos taken in succession and uploaded to Google+.
Oh and in case you want some right now, here are the top five most popular GIFs according to Giphy’s search engine of the past 30 days:
Basketball Missed Slam Dunk
One Direction Dancing
Lena Dunham Clapping
Finally, Giphy is giving away GIFs in screensaver form. They tell us it’s Mac only and works for all Mac OSX 10.8 computers – but go out and grab one if the celebration strikes you.