Creator of the Graphics Interchange Format better known as GIF, Stephan aka Steve White passed away on March 14 due to Covid-19 related issues. Known for creating the short voiceless looped images format GIF in the 1980s, Wilhite was also known for building America Online – one of the first digital media companies that provided internet connectivity and developed its own email service, search engine in America when the Internet had just bloomed.
The GIPHY team is sad to hear of the passing of Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the GIF file format.— GIPHY (@GIPHY) March 23, 2022
GIPHY was built on a sincere love for the GIF — and we are indebted to the creativity and vision of Mr. Wilhite 💕 pic.twitter.com/CTPS895wCQ
Stephen Wilhite lived an accomplished life after retiring as Chief Architect from America Online, while being known as the inventor of GIF. His accolades include Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 after the GIF format became shorthand for instant visual communication after the social media boom. The Oxford American dictionary named ‘GIF’ as word of the year 2012. In 1987, while working as an information manager at Compuserve, Wilhite paved way for GIF which later became an important tool of memetic conversation.
As a computer Scientist, he created runtime systems that dealt with the execution of computer programs in mainframe computers in the 1960s. His funeral took place on March 22 at a local cemetery in his hometown of Milford in Ohio, USA. Netizens have poured their love for the inventor of GIF soon as the news of his departure broke.
Goodnight, sweet prince. May choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest. pic.twitter.com/SsfyYMc9PC— Big Fat Ugly Baby Eating Obrian (@BonkSlashmaker) March 24, 2022
RIP Stephen Wilhite, creator of the GIF. This was the first GIF ever created in 1987. pic.twitter.com/gqtMBqEOdg— Blade McG (@Blade__McG) March 23, 2022
So sad to wake up to this news. The internet as we know it wouldn’t be the same without his contribution— ΔMBERGRIDδ (@ambergrids) March 24, 2022
“The internet that we know today, wouldn’t have been the same without his contribution,” said a user while giving obituaries to Steve Wilhite. In a true sense, he led a revolution in the way we communicate things today without having to indulge in articulation.