Steve Wilhite, 1987

GIF is short for Graphics Interchange Format. From a technical standpoint, the huge success of .gif (since its introduction in 1987) is a bit of a mystery. It only supports 256 colors; its compression is inefficient; it doesn’t support sound; the last specification was published more than twenty years ago. Yet it’s still thriving. The reason, of course, is convenience. On the Web, the GIF, and especially the animated GIF, is the only video format that runs everywhere, runs automatically, and loops.