Wilhite finished the first version of the GIF specification on May, 1987. Compuserve began using the format the next month. This was two years before Sir Tim Berners-Lee announced his World Wide Web project and six years before the Mosiac browser made the web widely accessible. It was the web that made the GIF what it is today.
The GIF was perfect for displaying logos, line art, and charts on the web. The file format also became the center of one of the web’s first patent disputes in 1994. The animated GIF epidemic ended about as quickly as it started.
The web’s other major image format, the JPEG, was under development at the time.