The founding father of the GIF has passed away. The US-American programmer Stephen Wilhites is responsible for the miniature moving images that often make people smile in e-mails and chats. A brief digression into the history of the GIF’s origins.
The US-American Stephen Wilhites has just passed away at the age of 74. The name of the programmer may not be very well known, but his invention is, because Wilhites is the father of the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). Today, it is hard to think of chat threads and e-mails without these small moving images.
Steve Wilhite takes to the stage at the Webby Awards ceremony in New York at the end of May 2015. He accepts the award for his life’s work and leaves the stage again without having said a word. The crowd cheers. What happened?
Steve Wilhite is the inventor of the GIF file format. And with his brief appearance that evening, he points out 3 things:
- (Animated) GIFs are an excellent way to communicate nonverbally and convey emotion.
- The format, now in its thirties, has both feet firmly planted in its second spring.
- It’s pronounced “Dschiff” [d͡ʒɪf], not “Gif” [gɪf]. However, this clarification probably does not settle the dispute over the correct pronunciation. (“Gif” also sounds better, author’s note).
The GIF has been around longer than you might think. It celebrates its 35th birthday this year, making it older than the JPEG format. The GIF replaced the RLE format used until 1987, which was able to display content in black and white only. In addition, the image files created by Wilhites required significantly less storage space than other graphics formats common at the time, such as PCX or MacPaint. According to “Heise”, the trigger for the development of the GIF was the programming of a color interactive weather map.
For his invention and life’s work, the developer received a Webby Award in 2013. On this occasion, Wilhites wanted to finally clarify how his development was pronounced in English. Two different camps had formed here. Those who pronounced the G and others who emphasized the G as an Englisch J. “Picky developers select JIF,” Wilhites said, alluding to a commercial for Jif peanut butter. According to “Heise,” however, the debate over pronunciation is not quite over. For former U.S. President Barack Obama had decided a year later for the pronunciation with G.
By the way, the GIF was not the only invention of the developer who used to work for the online service Compuserve. He is also responsible for the Compuserve B Protocol, Compuserve Vidtex for the Apple IIe and CIM, and the Compuserve Information Manager for DOS computers. As “Heise” writes, Wilhite worked on developing Web chat software after Compuserve was acquired by America Online. He retired in 2000.
Usage of Gifs
A GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format is a special graphics format, similar to a JPG. So when someone talks about a GIF, they mean an image file with the GIF file extension. While JPG files are rigid images, a GIF file is often animated. Most of the time, the animation repeats after a few seconds. However, there are also such animations that run only once and then stop at the last image.
GIFs are often used in networks and internet chats as well as in messengers to tell a joke, or to represent a certain feeling. A GIF can be a very short segment from a movie, a TV series or a game.
Animated GIF images: I have to admit that I slept through this trend. But hey, we already used these things as video replacements at the end of the 90s, because at that time there was already a big Animated GIF boom. Because bandwidth was still measured in baud and not in MBit/sec., nobody wanted to wait half an hour for a two-minute video in 320×240 format, and there were still no HTML5 animations and CSS transitions. Movement on Websites ran exclusively over (tiny) animated Gif pictures. But the really amazing thing is: I found two animated GIFs I made back then, and they’re still getting impressive downloaded numbers.
Some online tools to make free GIFs
Some examples of romantic gif
Search and spread the best romantic GIF and the most beautiful animated GIFs. Find rare animation images here.