Back in the nineties, they used to put all kinds of crap on CD-ROMs. They were dumping grounds for data, everything from collections of clipart to hundreds of MIDIs of your favourite tunes, virtual gardens to virtual fish tanks, so on, so forth. These were then pumped into whatever shops would take them, placed on shelves for 5.99 or more and sold to the masses.
One of these datadumps is called GIFs Galore. They aren’t the GIFs that you’re used to, though – there’s no movement, they’re simply static images. Animating them was a thing, but it wasn’t exactly the norm – the format was in it’s infancy, and the GIF format itself had only been out since 1987. To put it into perspective, the humble JPEG arrived five years later in 1992, and the PNG was 1996, making it practically a twinkle in it’s Dad’s eye at the time.
Anyway, GIFs Galore, as far as what I can tell from looking at it, is basically a collection of images taken from BBS boards on the internet. Rather than just being a collection of clipart, then, it’s, in a sense, a look into what kind of images were posted around on those boards at the time. Internet image culture from over two decades ago – it’s bound to be interesting, just off the basis of that.
So, today on Atomic Kote, we’re going to take a look at all 5,000 images on GIFs Galore, and – no, not really. I’d be here writing this for a year, and you’d be here reading it for a week.
We’re just going to take a look at a few of them. Whatever I click on, basically, until I get bored of writing about them.
This was brought to my attention by a Twitter bot, which posts one of these images on the hour, every hour. You should follow the bot. You can find it if you click these blue words here.
Here’s the Amazon listing for this fine product. Gotta love that gradient, right? People loved learning that you could do that on a computer back then.
I usually like to buy the things that I write about here, but there’s no chance that I’m paying £89.99 for 5,000 images. Not when this thing is so readily available to download on the internet.
After a quick download from the good ol’ Internet Archive, it’s a simple case of mounting the image onto a virtual drive and then poking straight into it. We find ourselves with a selection of categories, all of which sound exciting. Let’s take a look at a few from each.
We’re off to a flying start already. This one is called ‘ALIENSEA’, and, well, it’s half of a face on a sphere floating above what is, well, an alien sea. I don’t really need to say more, do I?
This one comes from JM’s GIF Gallery, a website which presumably existed at some point, which probably had a whole host of weird images on it. There’s nothing on Google about it. Well, until now, anyway. I’ll pour one out for you and your dead website, JM.
This one is called ‘SONGDUDE’, and it’s by Dave St. Levinson, another dead Google result. It’s a dude singing a song. This one isn’t particularly abstract, despite being plonked in that category, it’s quite clear what’s going on here.
That’s more like it. No idea what’s going on here, but it looks great. We can actually see that this one predates 1992, going all the way back to 1988, where doing this thing on a computer would probably be some kind of wizardry. Unfortunately, the signature is inscrutable, so I can’t give credit where credit is due. Godspeed, whoever you are.
My final pick from the abstract category is this piece, which is just called ‘ACCIDENT’. Yeah, we’ll leave it at that.
Next up, we dive into the ‘CARTOON’ folder. Honestly, this is the one I’m most excited about. It’s absolutely bursting with image files, so let’s dig through them. Guaranteed gold here, I assure you.
In ‘AKU1’, we find a very stoned Donald Duck, who looks like he’s about to give one of his nephews a clout over the head. I don’t really need to say more.
I could rip on this one and say something about anime and poorly rendered breasts and whatnot, but I’ve decided against it, mainly because it’s actually kind of interesting. Aside from the front and center tits, I mean.
It’s an advertisement for a presumably defunct anime magazine or ezine, which isn’t interesting in itself, until you realise that it’s from 1989. Ezines, or electronic magazines or whatever, were particularly popular back then, and you could sign yourself up to mailing lists and the like. The fact that this has been preserved thanks to someone bundling a bunch of random crap onto a CD-ROM is actually pretty amazing.
There’s actually a load more of these images in the folder. Here’s one advertising the first issue, or issue zero, which was released in 1988. It’s clear that whoever put this image collection together just downloaded a bunch of images haphazardly from their website, because you don’t get everything from issue zero to issue whatever – but it’s interesting, nonetheless.
Anyway, moving swiftly on.
A lot of pictures in the folder are just low quality stills from various cartoons. Take ‘BUGSBUNY’, for example, which shows a grainy, oversaturated still from a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Here’s one of your first internet comics, ‘The Crazy Skateboarder’ by Robert Ballard. Interestingly, this is Vol. 1 No. 1. Unfortunately, GIFs Galore didn’t think to capture the rest of the collection.
Squeal! Squeal! Here’s a tasteful image entitled ‘CRIMSON1’. Sometimes, pictures are better than words.
I don’t know what this one is supposed to be. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
Here’s ‘MARIO’, by Glen Floreancig. No date stamp on this one, but I imagine it predates 1992. I like how the star is giving us a smile, anyway.
Titled ‘PARSON’, this one is from a cartoon that I don’t remember. Why am I including it? Look at the eyes on that bird, man. He is whacked out.
Our final little treat from the cartoon folder is this little nightmare. Honestly, this unsettles me. There’s something about early 3D work that’s sort of sinister, and it’s magnified when it’s a direct threat.
The next folder that I chose to dive into is food, because we all love food from 1992, right?
Here’s an image from who knows where, probably some Christian BBS board in 1988. They’re giving thanks to the lord for a bountiful harvest, a traditional pastime for the Christian people.
Here’s ‘DAIRYQUN’. It’s, well, it’s Dairy Queen. Get your Coke in a cup, get your hot dog with some fries.
Interestingly, though, there’s no ice cream, the product that Dairy Queen are arguably known for.
Here’s a grainy, grayscale image called ‘MCDLT’. Interestingly, the McDLT is a fairly infamous sandwich from McDonalds, which was first served in 1985.
It was taken off the menu not much later, mainly because it was a silly idea. The sandwich was served to you in two seperate containers – one for your beef patties, and the other for your bun and lettuce, keeping one cool, and the other one hot. This wasn’t a particularly novel experience, however, and the company got them taken off the menu because they were basically just a massive waste of packaging that was filling up landfills.
Moving on, we have a variety of mice nibbling on big triangles of cheese. They’re loving life, and rightly so.
Next, we’re going to dive into the MISC folder. Yes, this article is still going. I have a few more in me yet.
This one is called ‘BOB89A’. Is this a still from a movie, or is a photo of, well, a real person on vacation or whatever? We’ll never know. Either way, he’s got an alright smile going on.
‘COLA’ features a mushroom cloud, a can of Pepsi, and a skeletal hand. No idea what’s going on here. My guess? The skeleton was drinking the Pepsi, and he was so surprised by the mushroom cloud that he dropped it.
This one is actually animated! You’ll have to click on the image to see it, though, because it doesn’t loop. People didn’t quite have that part down. An interesting little relic for sure, though.
‘PERV’ here shows someone using a magnifying glass to make an image of a woman in her swimsuit bigger, rather than, you know, just using their eyes. Perhaps it’s for our benefit.
‘BUBATH’ shows, well, just that – a woman having a nice bubath. The bubbles are covering all of her naughty bits, though. How tantalising.
Alright, one more folder. Let’s go with THINGS.
This one is called ‘CARS’, but there are no actual cars that I can see here. It looks more like the top of someone’s dressing table. Perhaps it’s a reference that I just don’t understand.
This one, ‘FRED5’, has managed to worm it’s way into THINGS, despite not really being a thing at all. It seems to be advertising the work of a certain ‘GRAFX Group’ instead. Don’t bother Googling them – they don’t exist anymore.
There are a lot of pictures of hot air balloons in the THINGS folder. This is one of them. It’s advertising the ‘McHenry BBS’, which somewhat proves my theory that a lot of these will be from message boards at the time.
Here’s a very patriotic Santa Claus, surrounded by baubles and minituare snow globes. There’s something weridly uncomfortable about this.
Here’s some cigarettes with lipstick on next to a Budweiser beer can, in the image aptly titled ‘BEERCAN’. What’s strange about this image is the tiny television on the left of the image. The cigarette ends and the beer completely dwarf it. What’s going on? I don’t know.
And, well, that’s it. Maybe I’ll look at more of these later, maybe I won’t. Maybe this will even become a regular feature! Probably not. Either way, it’s been fun. Catch you next time.
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