It’s easy to take for granted that you can send a picture to a friend without worrying about what device, browser, or operating...
Unraveling the JPEG by Omar Shehata for Parametric Press
It’s easy to take for granted that you can send a picture to a friend without worrying about what device, browser, or operating system they’re using, but things weren’t always this way. By the early 1980s, computers could store and display digital images, but there were many competing ideas about how best to do that. You couldn’t just send an image from one computer to another and expect it to work.
To solve this problem, the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), a committee of experts from all over the world, was established in 1986 as a joint effort by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission)—two international standards organizations headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
JPEG, the group of people, created JPEG, a standard for digital image compression, in 1992. Anyone who’s ever used the internet has probably seen a JPEG-encoded image. It is by far the most ubiquitous way of encoding, sending and storing images. From web pages to email to social media, JPEG is used billions of times a day—almost every time we view or send images online. Without JPEG, the web would be a little less colorful, a lot slower, and probably have far fewer cat pictures!