Creator of the GIF Stephen Wilhite died last week at the age of 74 as a result of a CoV disease, as reported by several US media.
With his development, he made the web a much more colorful, moving place – whether it’s “Side-Eyeing Chloe”, Homer Simpson, who disappears into the bush, Michael Jackson, who eats popcorn, or ex-US President Barack Obama, who is Micro drops: Without GIFs, the net culture of the past few years would be missing a significant part.
Wilhite’s invention is much older – even older than the web itself: GIF, the “Graphic Interchange Format”, was intended as an image format for the early online service CompuServe and was used as early as 1987.
It was intended for “high-quality, high-resolution graphics,” according to The Verge. What that meant back then: Images could be up to 256 different colors and still be transmitted at reasonable speeds over the slow modem connections of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Dancing skeletons as a fixed point on the homepage
Unlike other image formats of the time, GIF also supported animations. In the early days of the World Wide Web, the influence of the GIF was soon visible: private homepages often featured several dancing skeletons, blazing flames and other moving images that distracted from the often meager text content.
The format is still relevant more than three decades later: GIF has become a synonym for short videos without sound, which are particularly suitable as moving image reactions in chats, countless memes – pictorial jokes – would be unthinkable without GIF, even if the format has long since been replaced by more efficient algorithms was overtaken.
Creator Of The GIF Stephen Wilhite, who is described by his wife Kathaleen as a “modest, kind-hearted man” despite “his achievements”, caused an earthquake on the Internet, above all with an interview.In a discussion about how to pronounce “GIF” correctly, he answered with the variant that probably nobody would have expected: He would pronounce it with “soft G”, German paraphrased: “Dschif”, as he used to mean the “NewYork Times” said.Whether GIF or “Dschif”: With his invention, like few other computer scientists, he shaped not only the technology behind the Internet, but also the net culture itself.