Stephen Wilhite, creator of animated GIF, dies at 74


Stephen Wilhite was born in West Chester, Ohio on March 3, 1948. His father, Clarence Earl Wilhite, was a factory worker and his mother, Anna Lou Dorsey, was a nurse.

Later in life, Mr. Wilhite captured the story of his invention in a three-page document that he shared with his children and grandchildren, his wife said.

When one of her granddaughters, Kylie, told her computer science teacher that her grandfather had invented the GIF, the teacher didn’t believe her, Ms Wilhite said. This prompted Mr. Wilhite to write a letter to the teacher confirming the story. “Then he signed it Steve Wilhite and he said, ‘Google,'” Ms Wilhite said.

Mr Wilhite retired at 51 after a stroke, but has been busy using his computer programming skills to augment his model railway, a hobby which his wife says was supposed to be confined to the basement of his house but spread to other rooms, with Mr. Wilhite building model train bridges in his upstairs office.

Ms Wilhite said her husband also enjoys spending time outdoors and they go on many camping trips with his son Rick, who she says was one of Mr Wilhite’s ‘best friends’.

They traveled from their home in Milford, Ohio, to the tip of Florida and to the Grand Canyon, she said. “Steve loved the pine trees up north, and I love the ocean, so it gave us great reach,” Ms. Wilhite said.

The couple married in 2010, when they were both in their 60s. Ms Wilhite said their first date was at a Cracker Barrel the year before they married.


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