Once upon a time… the first GIF was born.
A GIF (Graphical Interchange Format) is a series of images that are shown at a very fast speed, making it appear in motion.
Now, GIFs have actually been around for a while. Since 1987, in fact! Back then, people had issues sharing images without taking up too much space. So one day, a developer named Steve Wilhite had a bright idea. He created a compression algorithm that could send animated image files with timed delays. This resulted in the GIF that we know and love today. Steve, we salute you.
All was well, until… *cue shocked gasps*... the dreaded GIF purge. The algorithm that made them possible was under patent, and in 1995, the owners decided to charge royalty fees. The patent wouldn’t run out until 2004 (cry)! Developers gradually stopped using GIFs, whilst others turned to PNG files, and all seemed to be lost. But a remnant of GIFs did survive the purge (yay)!
It’s now 2013. Enter: GIPHY, the ‘Google of GIFs’. The founders had realized that digital communication was becoming more visual, and they created a platform of GIFs to share with their friends. But in the first weekend, their website hit 1 million views. BOOM! GIFs were a new way to quantify emotions and add context, and the people loved it.
From there, the whole movement snowballed. In 2015, GIFs became supported on Facebook, and Instagram added GIF to their story features in 2018. Now, they’re everywhere! You can see these image formats in blog articles, webpages, email signatures, forums… you name it. They’re an iconic part of Internet culture and our overall user experience.
And they all GIF’ed happily ever after.
(Except it isn’t quite the end, because now we’re going to show you how you can get the best out of GIFs in your email newsletters!)