Wilhite, whose humble GIF changed the way we communicate online (and made it even more fun), He passed away on the 14th of March
. His wife, Kathleen, told CNN that Welheit had died of complications from COVID-19. She said a stroke he had a few years ago weakened his right lung. He was 74 years old.
In the 1980s, Wilhite, who was a developer at the online service provider CompuServe, and his team were tasked with overcoming slow dial-up speeds, incompatible computer systems, and images that were too large to efficiently send to another user, especially color images, according to Smithsonian Magazine
In 1987, Wilhite figured out how to compress images so they didn’t lose their sharpness, could load quickly and could appear on any computer – and the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, was born.
It was the first GIF of an airplane clip art flying in a speckled sky.
The first GIF ever created was of an airplane flying in a speckled sky. Stephen Wilheit / From the Zealot
At first, GIFs were static. But Wilhite had the foresight to make GIFs “expandable,” so developers across the web could add custom information to their GIFs, Wired reported
In 2017. Animated GIFs became popular beginning in 1995 – and from there, GIFs took on a life of their own.
When GIFs took over the internet
The early GIFs weren’t pretty, but that was part of their charm. Websites will use ‘under construction’ flashing signals to alert visitors that their work is not complete, I mentioned Vox
On the GIF’s 30th anniversary in 2017. The aforementioned dancing baby, in only diapers but fiddly anyway, was one of the first pieces to hit the internet by leaps and bounds. Another dancing GIF, this time and excited bananas
It became ubiquitous in the early 2000s.
GIFs were not favored for a few years until the dawn of social networks like MySpace that allowed users to implement GIFs in all of their profiles. Tumblr has made it easy to create and distribute specific GIFs at scale, many of which convey screenshots of notable pop culture moments.
Now, it’s easy to create GIFs for every occasion or find them in a few clicks – Twitter allows users to search for them when they write a tweet, and sites like cadaverous
They are live encyclopedias of all the GIFs the Internet has ever used.
Wilhite on how to pronounce “GIF”
Wilhite retired in 2001 after suffering a stroke the previous year, and The New York Times reported
In 2013. He mostly enjoyed life offline, as detailed in previous reports, preferring to camp and spend time outdoors with his family.
As a real online user, he avoided most interviews and public appearances until 2013, when he was Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at Webbys
Awards presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to people who have made an impact on the Internet.
Instead of a speech, he instead accepted the award with GIFs, and a soundtrack to Strauss’ song also “sprach Zarathustra”: “It’s Spoken”GIF
‘Not’ a GIF. “
CNN’s Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.