A video version of the 25th Anniversary GIF I made for the dailydot.com
The three Nyans are the mathematicians/computer scientists that developed the LZW compression (used for gif,tiff and pdf) - Abraham Lempel, Jacob Ziv, and Terry Welch. ‘LZW’ wasn’t built specifically for gifs, but the algorithm itself is somewhat memetic, since Welch based ‘LZW’ on Lempel and Ziv’s ‘LZ78’. I think Welch died before the gif was invented a couple of years later, but his patent ended up in the hands of a company called Unisys in the 80s. The three Nyan-computer scientists are chasing a rainbow/holographic LZW compression schematic through space, where the stars in the background are old Compuserve logos - the company that developed the GIF using LZW, without being aware of the patent, resulting in a legal dispute with Unisys (yadda yadda yadda). The Nyan rainbows are composed of their respective initials - Lempel, Ziv, Welch.
UPDATE: Fucking hell - the tumblr video compression is ironically shit.