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The graphics interchange format (GIF) is a type of bitmap image format introduced by CompuServe back in 1987 that has since gained wide support and use on the World Wide Web. The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel, allowing an image to have access to a 255-color palette. The most distinctive feature of GIF is its support for animation, with each frame being allowed to use a separate palette.
The graphics interchange format became popular because of its use of the LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch) compression method, which reduces the file size without reducing or degrading the quality of the image. This compression method allows for larger images to be downloaded by slow modems in a relatively short time. This method is also more efficient than the older run-length compression method that other image formats like PCX used. Even with its merits, GIF is not suitable for reproducing high-quality color photographs because of the limitations of its color palette. It is better suited to other types of graphics like logos, which usually have a lot of solid areas of color.