Winflare

The GIF turns 30 today – and we still can’t agree how to pronounce it

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the GIF image format, which has given rise to countless funny and inappropriate moving responses to messages.

Short for Graphics Interchange Format, the GIF was created by Steve Wilhite on this day in 1987. Wilhite was working at CompuServe, the first major internet service provider in the US, as a software developer and was tasked with making a colour image format for downloadable files.

In 1995, GIFs gained the ability to loop, laying the foundations for the popularity of the format.
GIFs are typically used for short animations and low-resolution looping video clips with no sound to convey reaction. They are also used for logos with limited colours.

Popular in the early days of the internet, GIFs have made a resurgence with the rise of social media. The looping clips are commonly found on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as in text messages.

How do you pronounce GIF?

The widespread popularity of GIFs hasn’t come without controversy. Three decades after it was created, the GIF still causes arguments over pronunciation, with people unable to agree on whether it uses a hard or soft “G”.

Wilhite attempted to close the debate in 2013 when he said, once and for all, that it should be said with a soft “G” as in “generous”.

“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” he said. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G’, pronounced ‘jif’. End of story.”

Facebook adds GIFs for comments

To celebrate the anniversary of the GIF, Facebook has added the ability to send GIFs in comments. The social network said 13 billion GIFs were sent on Messenger last year, leading it to bring the format to its main feed.

“We know people love communicating with GIFs on Messenger, and we’re also making it easier to use GIFs on Facebook. Today we’re introducing the ability to add GIFs in comments for all people on Facebook globally,” said Facebook.

Just tap the GIF button when you go to make a comment, type in what you’re looking to say, and add the GIF that really nails it!”

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