Charles Geschke Was Behind the PDF

Adobe co-founder helped spark desktop publishing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2021 10:30 AM CDT
Charles Geschke Was Behind the PDF
Charles Geschke, shown in 1999, received the National Medal of Technology from President Obama.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Charles Geschke, the Adobe co-founder who helped develop the PDF, launch desktop publishing and was once kidnapped and held for ransom, had died. He was 81, the BBC reports. "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," Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen wrote to employees. Geschke "sparked the desktop publishing revolution," Narayen said. In 1982, Geschke and John Warnock left their Xerox jobs at the Palo Alto Research Center to start Adobe. Adobe PostScript was their first product, per the Verge. 'I could never have imagined having a better, more likable, or more capable business partner," Warnock said in a statement.

In 1992, two men grabbed Geschke at gunpoint as he arrived at work and held him in a ransom attempt in Hollister, California. The FBI freed him, unhurt, after four days. "He always called himself the luckiest man in the world," his wife, Nancy, said. He told employees that they could work in the evenings if they had to, she said, but that they should first "go home to dinner with your family," per the Mercury News. In 2009, President Obama awarded the two co-founders the National Medal of Technology. Narayen called Geschke's death a loss for the company and the technology industry as a whole, "for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades." (More Adobe stories.)

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