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Adobe co-founder and developer of PDF Charles Geschke dies at 81

Charles Geschke helped develop PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop. He founded Adobe in 1982 with colleague John Warnock from Xerox.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | April 19, 2021 | Updated 13:10 IST

Highlights

  • Geschke stumbled upon Computer Science by accident when he was teaching math at John Carroll University in the 1960s.
  • He went on to pursue a PhD and founded Adobe with a Xerox colleague in 1982.
  • In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology.

Adobe founder who helped develop Portable Document Format (PDF) document Charles Geschke died on Friday at the age of 81. Geschke lived in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Los Altos. He founded Adobe in 1982 with colleague John Warnock from Xerox. He retired in 2000 and remained on the Adobe board until 2020.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen in an email to his employees said, "This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the technology industry, for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades. As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionised how people create and communicate," Narayen said. "Their first product was Adobe PostScript, an innovative technology that provided a radical new way to print text and images on paper and sparked the desktop publishing revolution. Chuck instilled a relentless drive for innovation in the company, resulting in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop."

Back in 2015, PDF became the fourth most popular religion, according to Cogniview, a company that specialises in converting files to different formats. When experts at Cogniview typed "How do I convert to," Google auto-filled with suggestions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and PDF. This also became a source for memes. A PDF is a converted high quality electronic image that is easy to access.

Geschke stumbled upon Computer Science by accident when he was teaching Math at John Carroll University in the 1960s. He was upset over failing a Masters student from the program but a year later the same student called to inform him that he has discovered Computer Science and that he would teach Geschke the ropes of the subject. Geschke went on to pursue a Phd in Computer Science. He earned a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, after which he began working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where he met Warnock. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology.

"He was a famous businessman, the founder of a major company in the US and the world, and of course he was very, very proud of that and it was a huge achievement in his life, but it wasn't his focus - really, his family was," his wife Nancy Geschke, 78, told the Mercury News on Saturday. "He always called himself the luckiest man in the world."


Geschke is reported to have survived a kidnapping at gunpoint in 1992. Geschke was 52 when he was held captive for four days. A suspect who was caught with $650,000 in ransom money eventually led police to the hideout where he was held, news agency AP had reported.

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