GIF Creator Stephen Wilhite Has Died

Stephen Wilhite, one of the creators of the GIF, has died due to COVID-19 complications.

GIF, also known as the Graphics Interchange Format, is a popular tool used by many to express their reactions, messages and jokes. Wilhite created GIF while he was employed at CompuServe in the 1980s. Since its conception, GIF has been synonymous with animated internet memes. When it was first introduced in 1980s, GIF was a way to distribute “high-quality, high-resolution graphics” in color at a time where internet speeds were not as fast as it were today. His wife Kathaleen told The Verge, “He invented GIF all by himself — he actually did that at home and brought it into work after he perfected it. He would figure out everything privately in his head and then go to town programming it on the computer.”

His obituary read that he was surrounded by family when he died and that ““even with all his accomplishments, he remained a very humble, kind, and good man.” Wilhite retired in the early 2000s and earned Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 for the format, also clarifying the real pronunciation of GIF. Funeral services were held earlier this week for Wilhite.
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