What Is an Animated Graphics Interchange Format File?


Quick Answer

Animated Graphics Interchange Format files are computer files that contain a series of simple images displayed in order to create an animation. This file format was first created in 1987 by Steve Wilhite while working at Compuserve.

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In the 1980s, Steve Wilhite saw the need for an image file format that was easy to download through slow dial-up modems of the time. He created the Graphics Interchange Format file, which created a simple compressed image file to display in an Internet browser. Pronounced like 'Jif', rather than 'Gif', the animated GIF file format came soon after. Animated GIFs are composed of more than one GIF image displayed one after another.

A GIF animator, such as the Ulead GIF Animator, is a program that users can use to create GIFs. The user uploads several images, and thenselects which order they should appear in and how much of a time delay there should bebetween frames. A short time delay creates the appearance of an animation when the images are played in the correct order. GIFs are best used with small files and the animation can be confined to a small section of the image to reduce the file size overall. These file formats were popular in banner advertising before the use of Flash animation took over.

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