A Short Animated History of the GIF

In 1987, Compuserve begatteth Image Format 87A.

Image Format 87A begatteth Graphics Interchange Format or GIF (rhymes with a certain brand of peanut butter, the video history above helpfully points out).

The proliferations of free online GIF generators begatteth the countless annoying, smarmy, boneheaded animated loops you’ve seen junking up emails, profile pictures, and MySpace pages.

Of course, some of them are also pretty cool, which is why they’re being celebrated with a festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. No tickets necessary. Moving the Still: A GIF Festival will be screening through June on the outdoor electronic billboard meant to promote upcoming and current attractions. Conceivably, viewers with wheels and time to spare could take it in on an endless loop of their own, by circling up Flatbush to Lafayette, then moving up when the light changes, battling traffic from the nearby Barclays Center on the return leg.

What do we stand to see in this festival? The video history leads us to believe that anything is possible, though certain things—accidental happenings, laser cats, colorful barfing (…wait, colorful barfing?)—have a built in appeal.

Related Content:

A Gallery of Stanley Kubrick Cinemagraphs: Iconic Moments Briefly Animated

Kids (and Less Savvy Marketers) Imagine the Internet in 1995

Ayun Halliday gravitates toward the paper GIFs known as flip books. Follow her @AyunHalliday



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  1. Sputters says . . . | April 29, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    OK… a dispute over the pronunciation of GIF I prefer hard G as in ‘Gift’ there are a few who prefer the soft G sound as in JIF (peanut butter) – which is it REALLY?

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