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Graphics Interchange Format

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Graphics Interchange Format
Rotating earth (large).gif
A rotating globe in GIF format. Posterization is noticeable in the blue gradient areas due to the restricted palette.
File extension:.gif
MIME type:image/gif
Type code:GIF
Uniform Type Identifier:com.compuserve.gif
Developed by:CompuServe
Type of format:Raster graphics image format

Graphics Interchange Format (often shortened to GIF) is a file format for images.[1]

It is a raster graphics format; that is the image has a fixed size. CompuServe developed and introduced the format in 1987. Today, it is widely used on the World Wide Web.The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel, or 256 colors. It also supports animations. Each frame of an animation can have its own set of 256 colors. GIF is not used to show photographs very much, because having only 256 colors is limiting for such a task.

To reduce their size, images are compressed using Lempel–Ziv–Welch compression. Lempel-Ziv-Welch, or LZW, is a lossless compression. No information is lost when compressing or uncompressing. There were some problems with the patent of the LZW compression. That patent was not held by CompuServe, but by Unisys. These issues led to the development of another format, called PNG. This is no longer a problem, because the patents have expired.

A GIF may often represent a small clip of a favorite scene from a show or video.

Pronunciation of GIF

The creators of the format pronounced the word as "jif" with a soft "G" /dʒɪf/ as in "gin". Steve Wilhite says that the intended pronunciation deliberately echoes the American peanut butter brand Jif, and CompuServe employees would often say "Choosy developers choose GIF", spoofing this brand's television commercials.[2]

The disagreement over the pronunciation led to heated Internet debate. On the occasion of receiving a lifetime achievement award at the 2013 Webby Award ceremony, Wilhite rejected the hard-"G" pronunciation, and his speech led to 17,000 posts on Twitter and 50 news articles.[3]