Steve Welheit, the computer scientist who created the popular GIF file format in 1987, died in intensive care last Monday from complications from COVID-19, a report said.
He was 74 years old.
Welheit contracted the virus just two weeks before his death and was hospitalized near their home in Milford, Ohio, his wife Kathleen Welheit. NPR . said.
“He came suddenly. He woke up one morning and said, ‘Honey, I don’t feel good at all’. I don’t feel well at all,” recalls Kathleen.
“And he had a fever, he vomited badly. Then the next day he started coughing badly.
Kathleen said she was home when she got a call from the hospital last Monday telling her she needed to get there. Shortly after her arrival, her husband passed away.
“It’s too bad. It’s too tragic,” she told NPR.
Wilhite invented the graphics interchange format while working at CompuServe In the late eighties.
The format, which enabled simple animations and fast download speeds, became widely used in the early days of the Internet because it was supported by many applications and operating systems.
At the turn of the century, GIFs were ubiquitous on MySpace, before they were widely used to create viral memes in the early 2000s.
In recent years GIFs enjoyed a renaissance It has also been adopted by modern social media and text messaging platforms.
Although they are widely used, most people mispronounce the coordination.
In 2013, Wilhite explained that there is no hard “G” sound in the word, and said that “jif,” like the brand for peanut butter, should be pronounced in an interview with New York times.
President Barack Obama deplored his experience, and said he would pronounce it a “gift” without the last letter.
This is my official position. Obama tweeted.
Wilhite was once the chief architect of America Online and received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award, his obituary said.
“Friendly web trailblazer. Extreme pop culture advocate. Reader. Organizer.”