Stephen Wilhite, the inventor of the internet-popular short-video format, the GIF, has died. He was 74.
His wife, Kathaleen, said Thursday in a phone interview that he died of Covid-19 on March 14.
Wilhite, who lived in Milford, Ohio, won a Webby lifetime achievement award in 2013 for inventing the GIF, which decades after its creation became omnipresent in memes and on social media, often used as a cheeky representation of a cultural moment.
Wilhite was working at CompuServe in 1987 when he invented the GIF. “I saw the format I wanted in my head and then I started programming,” he told The New York Times in 2013, saying the first image was an airplane and insisting that the file had only one pronunciation – a soft “G,” like Jif peanut butter. Those using the hard “G,” as in “got” or “given,” “are wrong,” he said. “End of story.”
In that interview, he said the ’90s-era dancing baby GIF is a favourite of his.
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