Development of the TGA file format began in the mid eighties. A TGA file is most commonly associated with a TARGA image file (Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter). TGA files are bitmapped images, they were originally developed for use with Truevision's (now Pinnacle Systems) high-end graphics cards which were designed for video editing. TGA files are often seen in the video and animation industry, as well as by computer game manufacturers who use the TGA format to store texture files.
TGA files can store images with a range of bits, these include 8-bit, 16-bit, 24-bit or 32-bit which is 24-bit colour with transparency. They use a palette to define all available colours in an image. TGA images have typically large file sizes as every pixel is represented by a certain number of bits (dependant on the colour depth). However, they can be compressed using simple lossless run-length encoding, which can result in greatly reduced file sizes.
The GIF file format is a type of bitmap image and has become popular due to the growth of the internet. This file format supports up to 8 bits per pixel therefore giving an image the ability to contain 256 distinct colours chosen from the 24-bit RGB colour space. It also supports animations and whenever you see a logo or other sharp edged line art then you are probably dealing with the GIF format. It uses the lossless data compression technique which reduces the file size without any impact on the quality.
The GIF file format was invented by Compuserve for their online service, but they made the specifications publicly available. GIFs are able to hold multiple bitmaps of up to 256 colors each, using LZW (Lempel Zev Welch - a simple form of file compression that removes inefficiencies in the data storage without losing data or distorting the image) compressed raster data to minimize file sizes. The idea is to lessen the amount of colours in a GIF image to the minimum number necessary and to therefore remove stray colors that are not required to represent the image. A GIF graphic is unable to have more than 256 colors but it can have fewer colors, down to the minimum of two (black and white). Images with fewer colors will compress more efficiently under LZW compression.
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