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The Ultimate Animated GIF Guide: History, Free GIFs, & More

With the introduction of Animated GIF support in FlowVella for iPad and Mac, we thought it was only right to compile a resource and guide to document the reemergence of the GIF, and so you can get the most out of this feature. Our goal here is to make the ULTIMATE resource guide for all things Animated GIF. From the it’s humble roots out of Compuserve, to the endless pronunciation controversy, to the types and where to find free animated GIFs, we hope this list proves to be an enduring helpful resource. Without further ado, onto the history of the beloved GIF!

The Ultimate Animated GIF Guide - FlowVella Presentation Software

History of the GIF

Did you know the GIF is 28 years old? Back in June of 1987, Steve Wilhite of Compuserve debuted the very first GIF. The introduction of the GIF was not met withouta bit of controversy, however, as the compression technique was already patented in 1985 by Unisys. The disagreement carried into 1994, and by 1996, developers were boycotting the GIF and choosing the new PNG format instead. (Buck, Stephanie. “The History of GIFs.” Mashable. 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.) The GIF was so popular because the compression allowed larger images to download even with very slow modems. (“GIF.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.)

The controversy didn’t stop the GIF from being used by developers for websites “under construction.” (Anyone remember GeoCities? It was a haven for animated GIF lovers!) By 2004, all relevant patents had expired and the animated GIF is as popular as ever on forums, personal blogging sites like Tumblr, and even used in news stories and popular websites around the web. And in the last few years, it is seeing a growing resurgence with sites like Giphy, which raised $17 Million in venture funding in January 2015. Several other websites, apps, festivals, and exhibits are now dedicated to GIF production, searching and sharing.

In 2012, the GIF even made it into the Oxford University Press, who declared it their word of the year. (“Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012.” OxfordWords Blog. 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.) Last year, Twitter added support of the Animated GIF, and Facebook followed suit after previously rejecting support in May of this year. (Perez, Sarah. “Facebook Confirms It Will Officially Support GIFs.” TechCrunch. 29 May 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.)

The GIF still brings controversy… though this time with pronunciation! The story goes that the creators of the GIF pronounced it like the popular Peanut Butter brand, JIF. (“Gif’s Inventor Says Ignore Dictionaries and Say ‘Jif’.” BBC News. 13 May 2013. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.) Many insist, however, that it’s pronounced with a hard “G” like graphics.

The Ultimate Animated GIF Guide: History & Free GIFs

Types of GIFs

  • Animated
  • Transparent
  • Interlaced

Where to find Free GIFs

How to Create Animated GIFs



  • MakeaGif
  • Free Gif Maker
  • Picasion
  • Gickr
  • Flow2Us: FlowVella’s humble addition to the GIF-making world. This tool takes your Flows and creates an animated GIF of your screens, with customizable delay, loops, and size.


GIFs in Popular Culture, Art, & Exhibitions:

View on FlowVella – Presentation Software for Mac and iPad

Did we miss something? Maybe you have a favorite place to find animated GIFs or even your own article about it. We’d love to know about it and include it in the guide, so please leave any suggestions in the comments. And if you’re ready to start using GIFs in your presentations, hop over to the FlowVella Guide for Mac or iPad to get started.

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