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GIF Turns 30 | (Where Were You When You Saw Dancing Baby?)

This Thursday, June 15, is the 30th anniversary of the GIF. What do you think, Gen-Xers? Are GIFS here to stay? More importantly, where were you when you first saw the dancing baby and who sent it to you?

For those of you who don’t know, GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It’s a bitmap image format that was developed in 1987, by a software writer who worked for CompuServe. Over the last three decades, it has come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web.

The dancing baby GIF, known as Baby Cha-Cha, is one of the most popular GIFS ever created. In the fall of 1996, it became a media phenomenon and was one of the Internet’s first viral videos. I first saw it while sitting in my office on NW 63rd and Broadway in Oklahoma City. My friend Howard who lived in Los Angeles sent it to me in an email and I shared it with my entire office. In those days, forwarding emails was not that common and everyone in the building literally gathered around my desk to watch Baby Cha-Cha over and over again.

Experts at Gfycat, the world’s largest user-generated GIF platform, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans about their GIF habits. Turns out 63 percent of Americans use them; 43 percent sometimes and 20 percent all the time.  Another percent report never having used one and 23 percent of Americans don’t know what a GIF is.

Here are some more fun statistics:

  • 17 percent of Americans are veteran GIF makers
  • 47 percent of Americans say they don’t know how to make one
  • 23 percent didn’t even know they could create their own
  • 23 percent have created one
  • 17 percent have done it many times
  • 44 percent of Americans use them for comic relief
  • 27 percent of Americans say they use them as a way to make their friends laugh
  • 17 percent  say they use them to share inside jokes
  • 13 percent use them to express creativity

Happy Anniversary, GIF!

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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