Happy birthday to the gif – animated images that made their first entrance onto our screens via CERN, the Geneva-based organisation now operating the world’s largest atom smasher.
Today, the Graphics Interchange Format, or gif – a short, looping animation or video file – has a starring role on social media. It has become an inescapable aspect of our increasingly connected web culture and virtual lives, whether on Twitter or messaging services.
Compuserve, the first big online service provider in the United States, introduced the concept of the gif 30 years ago on June 15, 1987.
Powered by music
There's just something about scientists and music. The gif didn’t surface online until five years later, courtesy of four women who worked at the Large Hadron Collider – built and managed by CERN – in Geneva.
They used the gif format to publish a picture of themselves in 1992 as musical band Les Horribles Cernettes, part of CERN’s still-thriving musical scene.
It became the first photo ever to be published on the World Wide Web. But the gif format didn’t gain in popularity until the early 2000s.
British scientist Tim Berners-Lee had invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN in 1989 and then wrote the first web browser computer program for it a year later.
Today, the gif represents a huge market. Giphy Inc., one of the most popular search engines for the gif, was valued at $600 million last year.
Here are a few of our best gifs published on swissinfo.ch:
Making ends meet
How far does CHF6,000 really get you in Switzerland?
Who the Swiss like (and who not)
Quiz app decodes daily life in Switzerland
500 years of the Reformation
Switzerland: How To
Asylum in Switzerland - A safe haven