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The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF; /ɡɪf/ GHIF or /ɪf/ JIF, see pronunciation) is a bitmap image format that was developed by a team at the online services provider CompuServe led by American computer scientist Steve Wilhite and released on June 15, 1987.[1] It is in widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability between applications and operating systems.

Quick facts: Filename extension, Internet media type,...
Filename extension
Internet media type
Type codeGIFf
Uniform Type Identifier (UTI)com.compuserve.gif
Magic numberGIF87a/GIF89a
Developed byCompuServe
Initial release15 June 1987; 35 years ago (1987-06-15)[1]
Latest release
1989; 34 years ago (1989)[2]
Type of formatlossless bitmap image format

The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, allowing a single image to reference its own palette of up to 256 different colors chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of up to 256 colors for each frame. These palette limitations make GIF less suitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with color gradients but well-suited for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color.

GIF images are compressed using the Lempel–Ziv–Welch (LZW) lossless data compression technique to reduce the file size without degrading the visual quality.