May 18, 2021

Charles Geschke, founder of Adobe and creator of PDF, dies

Charles Geschke, the father of PDF and founder of the software company Adobe, died on Friday, as announced by the Californian company in a statement this morning.

Geschke worked for Xerox’s research and development division in Silicon Valley (California) in the 70s, where he developed software to translate words and images into printed documents together with John Warnock, who would become his partner at Adobe.

Geschke and Warnock, whose ideas and drive were ignored by Xerox, went on to found Adobe, a software giant that currently owns market capitalization of $ 250 billion, in 1982.

“Technology is like fish, if you handle them quickly they get bad,” said Geschke, recalling his frustration to innovate within the then printing giant Xerox, where they told him that launching a product took seven years.

Adobe created the digital document format Portable Document Format or PDF in 1993 and despite technological changes over time, it continues to be a standard for publishing digital documents.

The company that Geschke co-founded changed the world of publishing, printing and digital communication with software comor Photoshop, Acrobat or Illustrator, which have remained, have become essential tools for editors and creatives.

Adobe’s meteoric success led him to be the victim of a kidnapping for several days in 1992, until the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rescued him.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Adobe mourned the loss of its founder and assured that Geschke died surrounded by his loved ones, although it did not give details about the causes of death.

Geschke, born in 1939, was son of an Ohio linotypist, who worked transferring plate images to newspapers and magazines, a process that more than half a century later would forever revolutionize Adobe.

Geschke, which he wanted to be a jesuit, fell in love with computers in the 1960s, earned his doctorate in computer science in 1973, and bragged that he hadn’t studied business at all and that the only thing that helped him was a book that taught him the importance of finding niche needs not satisfied.

“Adobe found one of them and the void was gigantic”he recalled in a speech in 2011.


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