Stephen Wilhite, who created GIFs, dies at 74

Stephen Wilhite, who created GIFs, dies at 74

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Key Facts

  • Wilhite may not have known it when he created the first GIF in 1987, but his memes in motion would go on to rule the internet from the days of Web 1.0 to the present, and likely for years to come.
  • In 1987, Wilhite figured out how to compress images so they wouldn't lose their sharpness, would load quickly and could appear on any computer -- and the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, was born.
  • Now, GIFs for nearly every occasion are easy to make or find with a few clicks -- Twitter lets users search for them when they're composing a tweet, and sites like Giphy are living encyclopedias of all the GIFs the internet has ever used.
  • A true netizen, he eschewed most interviews and public appearances until 2013, when he was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Webbys, awards presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to people who've impacted the internet.

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