Vale Stephen E. Wilhite, creator of the GIF

29 March 2022

American computer scientist Stephen E. Wilhite who invented the GIF, being Graphics Interchange Format, in 1987, has died aged seventy-four.

Although GIFs are synonymous with animated internet memes these days, that wasn’t the reason Wilhite created the format. CompuServe introduced them in the late 1980s as a way to distribute “high-quality, high-resolution graphics” in color at a time when internet speeds were glacial compared to what they are today.

GIFs weren’t just used for animations, they were also an image format, similar to the more familiar JPEG or PNG formats in use today. Hunt around on Oblong Obsession and you’ll find one or two. You can’t go passed a classic. Thank you Mr Wilhite.