GIF Inventor Steve Wilhite Dies at 74 After Battling COVID-19

Stephen Wilhite, an American pc scientist and the creator of the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) died of COVID-19 on March 14 at the age of 74. Wilhite invented the GIF in 1987, whereas working as an engineering lead at CompuServe, an early web service supplier now owned by Verizon. He bought a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in New York in 2013, on the twenty fifth anniversary of the GIF. He retired from America On-line because the principal architect. Wilhite is survived by Kathaleen, his spouse, in addition to their kids and grandchildren.

At present, the GIF is a ubiquitous element of on-line life, a precious instrument for expression and communication. GIFs are generally used for reactions, messages, jokes, and animated on-line memes. It is a little bit surreal to think about a pc scientist within the Eighties creating the muse for a veritable language of brief movies that might nearly actually be utilised by future generations he would by no means meet.

Nonetheless, Wilhite didn’t invent the format for that motive. Within the late Eighties, CompuServe offered them to permit “high-quality, high-resolution graphics to be displayed on a variety of graphics hardware”, and was “intended as an exchange and display mechanism for graphics images”. These days, compared to what they’re now, web speeds had been sluggish. Dial-up connections had been painfully gradual, and interoperability points made picture downloads rather more tough.

A report by The New York Instances states that Wilhite’s first picture was an image of an aeroplane.

Wilhite’s obituary states that “even with all his accomplishments, he remained a very humble, kind, and good man”. He loved travelling and was an avid camper.

Wilhite’s acceptance speech for the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award was a GIF that he flashed on the large display screen at the occasion, the place he iterated the pronunciation as “JIF”, and never “GIF”.

Here is how Wilhite used the awards occasion to elucidate find out how to pronounce GIF:

Wilhite additionally instructed The New York Instances in the identical interview that, “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

The Oxford American Dictionary named GIF the phrase of the yr in 2012, beating various different contenders.

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