The creator of GIF images, Stephen Wilhite, has passed away

To settle the debate once and for all: It’s pronounced “GIF” not “GIF”

The creator of the popular moving image format, GIF (pronounced “Jif” by the way) has died due to complications from COVID-19, at the age of 74. His obituary page notes that “even with all his accomplishments, he remained a very humble, kind, and good man.”

Wilhite worked on GIF (Graphical Interchange Format) at CompuServe back in 1980. He then retired working for CompuServe in the early 2000s to spend more time traveling and camping. This type of imagery is popularly known for its movement, which is similar to a short-form video without sound. Today it is used in memes, reactions, and messages.

While GIF images are now used for moving imagery and memes, this wasn’t the original purpose of it. Wilhite originally created GIFs to distribute high-quality, high-resolution graphics as images at the time were often produced in a pixelated low-res format. “He invented GIF all by himself — he actually did that at home and brought it into work after he perfected it,” Kathaleen, his wife, said. “He would figure out everything privately in his head and then go to town programming it on the computer.”

Remember the “dancing baby” image? This was one of Wilhite’s favourite GIFs according to an interview in Times. This imagery was created way before terms like “going viral” and “memes” are coined.

GIFs will always be used and remembered for its ability to make images animated. So thank you, sir Stephen Wilwhite for creating a revolutionary image format that is widely used even to this day.

Source: The Verge