BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF has died at the age of 74

Mar 23, 2022, 6:33 PM | Updated: 6:34 pm
Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF, passed away earlier this month from COVID. He was 74. Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF, died earlier this month, his wife Kathleen announced Wednesday.

According to his obituary, Wilhite died on March 14 from COVID-19, just days following his 74th birthday on March 3. 

The GIF or Graphics Interchange Format is now all over the internet. They are used as messages, jokes and reactions on many social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. However, that was not why Wilhite created the GIF. He developed it as a way to distribute high quality graphics during a time when the Internet speed was much slower than it is today.

In 2012, the Oxford American Dictionary declared it as the word of the year due to its popularity among online users.

He developed it while working for Compuserve 1980s. He retired in the early 2000s, and spent his retirement years camping, traveling and building model trains.

In 2013, Wilhite earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for the development of the GIF and his contributions to the Internet.

 

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Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF has died at the age of 74