The phenakistoscope, invented in 1823, was an early animation display device. It presented a series of stills in sequence, much like a modern animated GIF. Pieterjan Grandry took a popular GIF file and adapted it for a phenakistoscope, which he calls the GIF Player.
When you make a cat GIF and post it on reddit, remember that you're standing on the shoulders of giants.
Link -via Technabob