Tuesday, Apr 20, 2021, 13:43 Others

PostScript and PDF inventor is dead: Adobe founder Charles Geschke dies at 81

PDF files are now ubiquitous in everyday use of notebooks, desktops, tablets and smartphones. Billions of users of such devices have been familiar with the universal file format for a long time. However, the key inventor Charles Geschke is hardly known outside the software and computer industry. The software developer and co-founder of Adobe has now died in Los Altos in the US state of California.

Ten years in the service of Xerox
Charles Matthew "Chuck" Geschke was born on September 11, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating with a degree in philology, he turned his attention to mathematics in the early 1960s. In 1972, he earned a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Geschke then spent ten years at the Xerox Parc research center in Palo Alto, California. There, together with John Edward Warnock, he developed the world's first page description language called Interpress. However, this did not meet with the approval of the Xerox management.

1982: Geschke and Warnock found Adobe
Geschke and Warnock then quit their jobs and founded Adobe Systems in a garage (December 1982), a company now known worldwide for products such as Photoshop and InDesign. Together with a handful of employees, they quickly developed Interpress into PostScript. The powerful page description language quickly aroused Apple's interest, and the Californian computer manufacturer acquired a license in 1985 and began equipping its own printers, called LaserWriters, with this technology. This contributed significantly to its spread.

PostScript was followed by PDF
The Portable Document Format (PDF), which Adobe first presented in 1993, is also based on PostScript. This platform-independent file format, which has since become standardized, made it possible for the first time to reproduce documents faithfully on all devices. Apple immediately integrated it into the Macintosh operating system called Mac OS, and since then it has been an integral part of all computers from Cupertino and is of course also included in the current macOS 11 Big Sur as well as in iOS and iPadOS. In contrast to Windows, for example, where this feature was only available at a late stage, the operating systems from Cupertino have always been able not only to read PDF files, but also to create them.



1994: Adobe takes over PageMaker
As CEO of Adobe, Geschke was responsible for the acquisition of software manufacturer Aldus in 1994, whose PageMaker program was the gold standard in desktop publishing in the 1980s but was eclipsed by QuarkXPress over time. Adobe ceased development of PageMaker in 2002, having already launched its own DTP software, InDesign, in 1999.

Geschke died on April 16, 2021
Charles Geschke led Adobe as chief executive officer from 1986 to 1994, and served as the company's president from 1989 to 2000. The software maker's founder also sat on its board of directors from 1997 to 2020. Geschke was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, among others. The Adobe founder died in Los Altos on April 16, 2021, and is survived by his wife, Nancy, as well as three adult children and seven grandchildren.

More mtech.news articles you might enjoy to read: