Stephen E. Wilhite, the creator of the GIF, has died

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The man behind the now-iconic GIF image format has died at the age of 74.

Stephen E. Wilhite, an American computer scientist, passed away on March 14 at a hospital near his home in Milford, Ohio.

His wife, Kathaleen, told NPR that Wilhite died as a result of Covid-19 complications. She added that they had planned on visiting their favorite spots in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan after purchasing a new truck.

"It came on suddenly," Kathaleen said. "He woke up one morning and he said, 'Honey, I don't feel good. I don't feel good at all.' And he was running a fever, throwing up so badly. And then the next day he started coughing badly."

Per PEOPLE, Wilhite worked at an internet company named CompuServe in the 1980s, where he became the first person to create the Graphics Interchange Format - more commonly known now as the GIF.

As I'm sure everybody knows, the GIF has become a popular way to relay a comment, message, or joke on social media or in messaging apps. However, the image format was first invented in order to send "high-quality, high-resolution graphics" - in color, no less - back when the internet was much slower.

Back in 2013, Wilhite also settled a long-standing debate among internet users who couldn't agree on how to pronounce "GIF" - with people disagreeing on whether or not it was a hard or soft 'g'.

But while receiving his coveted Lifetime Achievement Webby Award that year, Wilhite revealed in his five-word acceptance speech: "It's pronounced JIF, not GIF." Finally settling the long-running dispute.

Paying tribute to the trailblazing computer scientist, the GIF-hosting website GIPHY shared the following message to its official Twitter:

"The GIPHY team is sad to hear of the passing of Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF file format.

"GIPHY was built on a sincere love for the GIF — and we are indebted to the creativity and vision of Mr. Wilhite."

According to his obituary, Wilhite was a father to son David and a cherished stepfather to Rick, Robin, Renee, and Rebecca. He was also a proud grandfather to 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

It added that despite all his success, Wilhite had always remained a "very humble, kind, and good man".

Our thoughts are with Wilhite's family, friends, and loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: YouTube/TheWebbyAwards

Stephen E. Wilhite, the creator of the GIF, has died

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The man behind the now-iconic GIF image format has died at the age of 74.

Stephen E. Wilhite, an American computer scientist, passed away on March 14 at a hospital near his home in Milford, Ohio.

His wife, Kathaleen, told NPR that Wilhite died as a result of Covid-19 complications. She added that they had planned on visiting their favorite spots in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan after purchasing a new truck.

"It came on suddenly," Kathaleen said. "He woke up one morning and he said, 'Honey, I don't feel good. I don't feel good at all.' And he was running a fever, throwing up so badly. And then the next day he started coughing badly."

Per PEOPLE, Wilhite worked at an internet company named CompuServe in the 1980s, where he became the first person to create the Graphics Interchange Format - more commonly known now as the GIF.

As I'm sure everybody knows, the GIF has become a popular way to relay a comment, message, or joke on social media or in messaging apps. However, the image format was first invented in order to send "high-quality, high-resolution graphics" - in color, no less - back when the internet was much slower.

Back in 2013, Wilhite also settled a long-standing debate among internet users who couldn't agree on how to pronounce "GIF" - with people disagreeing on whether or not it was a hard or soft 'g'.

But while receiving his coveted Lifetime Achievement Webby Award that year, Wilhite revealed in his five-word acceptance speech: "It's pronounced JIF, not GIF." Finally settling the long-running dispute.

Paying tribute to the trailblazing computer scientist, the GIF-hosting website GIPHY shared the following message to its official Twitter:

"The GIPHY team is sad to hear of the passing of Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF file format.

"GIPHY was built on a sincere love for the GIF — and we are indebted to the creativity and vision of Mr. Wilhite."

According to his obituary, Wilhite was a father to son David and a cherished stepfather to Rick, Robin, Renee, and Rebecca. He was also a proud grandfather to 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

It added that despite all his success, Wilhite had always remained a "very humble, kind, and good man".

Our thoughts are with Wilhite's family, friends, and loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: YouTube/TheWebbyAwards