GIF Creator Steve Wilhite Has Passed Away — Did the GIF Make Him Any Money?


Mar. 24 2022, Published 10:52 a.m. ET

Steve Wilhite
Source: Getty Images

American computer scientist Steve Wilhite has sadly passed away at age 74. The engineering inventor is known as the man who created the GIF image format (Graphics Interchange Format) while working for CompuServe in 1987. As anyone who has spent any time on the internet knows, the GIF revolutionized online communication and visuals.

Upon his death on March 14, 2022, fans everywhere are curious: What was Steve's net worth? And how the heck do you pronounce GIF, anyway?

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Steve Wilhite and Tumblr CEO David Karp at the Webby Awards.
Source: Getty Images

At the time of his death, CA Knowledge estimates Steve was worth $93 million dollars.

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Steve Wilhite

Computer Scientist

Net worth: $93 Million

Computer engineer Stephen "Steve" Wilhite was an American computer scientist who worked for CompuServe and was widely regarded as the inventor of the GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format. Sadly, Steve passed away at the age of 74 due to complications from the coronavirus. He is survived by his wife, Kathaleen, and reportedly five children.

Birth date: March 3, 1948

Birth place: Unknown

Birth name: Stephen E. Wilhite

Father: Unknown

Mother: Unknown

Marriages: Kathaleen Wilhite

What is the correct pronunciation of "GIF"?

Per CNN, in 2013, Wilhite set the record straight about how to pronounce "GIF." When he won a Webby Award for his digital contribution, he delivered a five-word acceptance speech that settled a years-long debate once and for all: "It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF." The pronunciation of the graphics format is supposed to sound like the peanut butter brand, Jif.

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Many fans and fellow computer engineering colleagues objected to this pronunciation, taking to Twitter to voice their displeasure. Web designer Dan Cederholm tweeted, "Graphics Interchange Format. Graphics. Not Jraphics. #GIF #hardg." October Jones, a Tumblr influencer, wrote, “So instead of GIF, we’ve got to say JIF? Yeah, right. And I suppose those animals with long necks are called ‘JIRAFFES.’"

Steve Wilhite and his wife Kathaleen.
Source: Getty Images
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Steve sadly passed due to COVID-19.

Sadly, NPR confirms via Steve Wilhite's widow that Steve died from coronavirus complications, making his death even more tragic. The couple had just purchased a new truck and camper in hopes of camping around Tennessee when Steve fell ill. His wife, Kathaleen, also contracted the virus, but her symptoms were drastically milder.

Kathaleen was allowed to sit by Steve's bedside upon testing negative, and she was present when he passed away. She told NPR, "It's just so bad. It's just so tragic." Steve's family has not disclosed whether he had been vaccinated or not.

Our condolences go out to Kathaleen Wilhite and Steve's family.

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Steve Wilhite and wife Kathaleen Wilhite attend the Webby Awards.
Source: Getty Images

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