Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections

Introduction | Sustainability Factors | Content Categories | Format Descriptions | Contact
Format Description Categories >> Browse Alphabetical List

IFF (EA Interchange File Format 1985)

>> Back
Table of Contents
Format Description Properties Explanation of format description terms

Identification and description Explanation of format description terms

Full name Electronic Arts Interchange File Format 1985 (EA IFF 85)
Description Generic wrapper format developed for data interchange and interoperability.
Production phase Various, depends upon application.
Relationship to other formats
    Has subtype AIFF, Audio Interchange File Format
    Has subtype DSDIFF_1_5, Direct Stream Digital Interchange File Format, Version 1.5
    Has subtype Wrappers for other applications, not documented here

Local use Explanation of format description terms

LC experience or existing holdings None
LC preference None

Sustainability factors Explanation of format description terms

Disclosure Fully documented. Developed by Electronic Arts.
    Documentation EA IFF documentation is provided online by various third parties.
Adoption Unknown to the compilers of this document; see also AIFF.
    Licensing and patents None.
Transparency Transparent wrapper. Transparency of bitstreams within subtypes varies; for example, see LCPM and DSD.
Self-documentation The format includes headers and identifiers associated with various "chunks," as the elements within the file are called. These headers contain encoded information (as specified) used to characterize the chunk's role and characteristics.
External dependencies None
Technical protection considerations None known to the compilers of this document.

Quality and functionality factors Explanation of format description terms

Normal rendering Not applicable
Fidelity (high audio resolution) Not applicable
Multiple channels Not applicable
Support for user-defined sounds, samples, and patches Not applicable
Functionality beyond normal rendering Not applicable

File type signifiers and format identifiers Explanation of format description terms

Tag Value Note
Filename extension Not applicable.   
Internet Media Type Not applicable.   
Magic numbers Not applicable.   
IFF formname and/or chunkname See note.  See (Available via Internet Archive capture from June 18, 2012. Chunk IDs are discussed in

Notes Explanation of format description terms


The format was brought to completion in 1985 by the electronic gaming company Electronic Arts; some of the information about IFF refers to the Commodore-Amiga computer company and three Commodore-Amiga staff members are listed as co-authors of a key piece of documentation. An outline of the history of Electronic Arts is provided by Wikipedia.

The IFF format was influential and is cited as the source of ideas and approach by the creators of other tagged formats, e.g., RIFF and SMF.

Format specifications Explanation of format description terms

Useful references


Books, articles, etc.

Last Updated: 08/10/2021