May 24, 2022

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Stephen Willheit, creator of GIFs, dies at 74

Stephen Willheit, creator of GIFs, dies at 74

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

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

Ms. Wellheit said, when one of his granddaughters, Kylie, told her computer teacher that her grandfather had invented the GIF, the teacher didn’t believe her. This prompted Mr. Welleight to write a letter to the teacher to confirm the story. Ms Willhit said: ‘Then Steve Wilhet signed it up, and said, ‘Google it’.

Mr. Wellheit retired at age 51 after suffering a stroke, but kept busy using his computer programming skills to augment his model railroad, a hobby that his wife said was meant to be confined to his basement but spread to other rooms, with Mr. Wilhite build a model train bridges in his upstairs office.

Ms Welheit said her husband also loves to spend time outdoors and that they went on several camping trips with her son Rick, who she said was one of Mr. Welheit’s “best companions”.

She said they traveled from their home in Milford, Ohio, to the tip of Florida and the Grand Canyon. “Steve liked the pines in the north, and I liked the ocean, so he gave us plenty of space,” said Mrs. Weilheit.

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

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