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The Long, Remarkable History of the GIF

Stashed in: Awesome, History of Tech!, About GIFs, Gifs of Glory

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Why does the gif persist, despite the scorn of literally generations of haters?

Especially since most current "gifs" are actually videos.

Here's the dirty little secret about the modern-day animated GIF: Behind that looping animation on the screen, there is often no GIF at all, no one file packed up with a ".GIF" extension like a bow on top.

Those reaction GIFs on Twitter? Not actually GIFs. The loops you'll find plastered all over Reddit (especially the ones that look suspiciously good)? Most of them aren't GIFs either. Some of the GIFs on this very page are imposters. They are video files—not unlike what you'd find on YouTube—but ones that are sneakily instructed to act like animated GIFs.

bugs bunny Daffy Duck gif season imgur

A GIF will automatically play and loop in silence because of its inherent makeup; it's a feature built into the file. These video file imposters, however, are different. They require code embedded in the page that surrounds them—code that orders them to adopt some quaint characteristics: play on mute, loop forever, don't display any sort of control bar or, heaven forbid, a pause button. These are videos with their hands tied behind their backs so they appear to be something simpler than they really are.

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