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Gif's inventor says ignore dictionaries and say 'Jif'

Gif's inventor says ignore dictionaries and say 'Jif'


The creator of the Gif graphics format has said that his invention should be pronounced so it starts with a "j" rather than with a hard "g".

Steve Wilhite told the New York Times that he was "annoyed" there was still a debate over how to say the acronym.

He added that the Oxford English Dictionary was wrong to say it could be pronounced both ways.

The OED told the BBC that it was beyond the software engineer's control to determine how the word should be said.

The difference of opinion coincided with Mr Wilhite being awarded a lifetime achievement prize at The Webby Awards. To mark the moment, screens at the ceremony displayed a message he had written saying: "It's pronounced 'Jif'".

Looping animations
The retired US-based software writer developed the Graphics Interchange Format in 1987 while working at the internet service provider Compuserve.

The data compression technique he used allowed images to be sent over what were then slow dial-up connections at much faster speeds than had been previously possible.

His efforts paved the way for his employer to start offering its customers the ability to download colour pictures rather than being limited to black-and-white.

Although the Jpeg format later caught on because it is better at compressing photographs, Gif's technique remains superior at tackling images containing large areas of uniform colour when no more than 256 different colours are used in the whole picture.

Gif's enduring popularity has also been helped by the fact it supports animations, making it easy for people to embed short clips into blogs, and copy and paste jokey looping video - such as odd actions by the actor James Van Der Beek - into discussion forums.

The format's long-lasting appeal was underlined by Google's recent announcement that it was adding a feature to help users search for such files, saying Gifs had "become the de facto standard for short animations on the web, from pony glitter text to grumpy cat memes".

(Agencies)

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