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Adobe Founder & PDF Creator Dead At 81

Charles Geschke helped develop ground breaking software such as the portable document format now known as PDF, he died this weekend aged 81.

Working with another Adobe legend John Warnock and co-founder of the business the pair were also responsible for products such as illustrator, Premiere Pro, PageMaker, and Photoshop.

In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology.

Geschke, left, and Warnock were awarded the National Medal of Technology

I interviewed the pair on many occasions both at Adobe headquarters and during his tours of Australia.

I remember when Warnock was sceptical of an idea developed by the then Adobe Australia Country Manager Graham Freeman to bundle and sell cheaply PageMaker, Photoshop, and Illustrator. The concept was a spectacular success and today Adobe sells a subscription to Creative Suite.

Geschke set up Adobe in 1982, giving the world the ubiquitous PDF software, among many other audio-visual innovations.

He made headlines 10 years later when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom before being released unhurt after a four-day ordeal.

Geschke was freed after a suspect, was found with $650,000 (£470,000) in ransom money, he eventually took police to the location where he was being held at the time.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said Geschke, widely known as Chuck, “sparked the desktop publishing revolution”.

“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,” he wrote in an email to the company’s employees.

“As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed ground-breaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate,” he said.

“He was really a humble, humble man – I can say that, as his wife,” Nan Geschke told Mercury News. “He was very proud of his success, of course, but he was very circumspect about how much he had to do with that.”

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