Pronounced jiff and short for Graphic Interchange Format, GIF is a file extension and a bit-mapped graphics file introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and today one of the most commonly used images on the Internet. The original release of the GIF standard is known as the GIF87a version. This standard was later replaced in 1989 when CompuServe released an improved version known as GIF89a. This improved version supported animation and transparent images. In the image to the right, is an example of a GIF image of a small man holding up the Computer Hope logo.
On December 24, 1994 Unisys and CompuServe announced that they expected licensing fees for software that creates and displays GIF images. This caused a lot of hysteria among developers and website owners using GIF images because of potential future GIF taxes, this hysteria lead to the development of the PNG format. The Software Freedom Law Center announced that after October 1, 2006 all significant patent claims interfering with the employment of the GIF format will expire, and all users should have no concerns about using the format.