30 years ago, online service provider CompuServe was in a conundrum. It needed a colour image format for its file downloading areas, to replace the black-and-white RLE format. Software developer Steve Wilhite came to the rescue with the GIF. So far, so boring.

We’re guessing that back then, nobody would have predicted that the GIF would undergo a phoenix-like transformation into a communication method beloved by internet users the world over. Or that it would enable an entire generation to express itself in a way that it just couldn't manage with mere words. 

However you pronounce it (although let’s face it, only the pedants are trudging on with that ‘soft g’ rubbish), the GIF has changed the way we communicate online.

To celebrate, Facebook has made GIFs available to use in the comments section and pulled together some pretty interesting stats on GIF usage in Messenger. Twitter is also in on the action, with users getting their GIF on to help mark the occasion.

If you have a spare hour or so, the hashtag #HappyBirthdayGIF  is worth a browse. You won't regret it. And if you're feeling keen, you could even make your own animated GIF in Photoshop. Happy birthday GIF!

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