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Death of Steve Wilhite, inventor of the GIF format

Steve Wilhite, inventor of the GIF image format, died at the age of 74 from complications related to Covid-19, his family announced. In 1987, while working for CompuServe, at the time the main American Internet access provider, he had perfected .gif, a format which made it possible to distribute compressed images without loss of quality, particularly suitable broadcasting on the nascent Internet network.

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In 1989, Mr. Wilhite’s team had published a new version of this format, making it possible to create animations. This innovation, at a time when it was almost impossible to broadcast videos online, had made the gif very popular. The name passed into common parlance in the 1990s to designate short animations. Millions of animated GIFs, diversions, parodies and small legendary clips are still widely used online.

In 2013, Mr. Whilhite answered a twenty-five-year debate over the pronunciation of the format he invented: “The Oxford dictionary accepts both pronunciations, ‘djif’ and ‘guif’, but they are wrong”he then explained to the New York Times. “It’s pronounced “djif”. » His favorite gif was the “dancing baby”, flagship animation of the 1990s, he also told the New York Times.

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