History of TIFF

The phrases “Tagged Image File Format” and “Tag Image File Format” were used as the subtitle to some early versions of the TIFF specification; the 1992 specification, TIFF 6.0, does not use either subtitle phrase, but is simply “TIFF”.

TIFF was originally created as an attempt to get desktop scanner vendors of the mid-1980s to agree on a common scanned image file format, rather than have each company promote its own proprietary format. In the beginning, TIFF was only a binary image format (only two possible values for each pixel), because that was all that desktop scanners could handle. As scanners became more powerful, and as desktop computer disk space became more plentiful, TIFF grew to accommodate grayscale images, then color images. Today, TIFF is a popular format for high color-depth images, along with JPEG and PNG.

The first version of the TIFF specification was published by Aldus Corporation in the autumn of 1986 after two major earlier draft releases. It can be labeled as Revision 3.0. It was published after a series of meetings with various scanner manufacturers and software developers. In April 1987 Revision 4.0 was released and it contained mostly minor enhancements. In October 1988 Revision 5.0 was released and it added support for palette color images and LZW compression.

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