Israeli scientists Abraham Lempel and Jacob (Yaakov) Ziv invented something that made a lot of modern computing possible. All the way back in 1977, they came up with the LZ Algorithm for data compression.
What's data compression? In simplest terms, it's taking a string and replacing frequently used character sequences in order to reduce its size. Here, give it a whirl:
The original string is 303
characters, but the encoded version is only ?
, a reduction by ?%
. The longer the string, the better it works!
It's not that simple, obviously. Encoding the string is half the trouble; you also need to decode it without losing any accuracy, which Lempel and Ziv were able to do. The LZ Algorithm has become the basis for many computer files, from the obvious ZIPs to... GIFs.
Yes, there would be no GIFs without Lempel and Ziv.