RIP To The Inventor Of The PDF. Charles Geschke, Co-Founder Of Adobe Dies At 81.

The term “game-changer” is overused and many times hyperbolic, but Charles “Chuck” Geschke, who died Friday at 81, certainly qualifies for membership in that exclusive club.

The co-founder of Adobe was a key figure in developing the PDF.

“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 …” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen wrote in an email to the company’s employees.

“Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate. 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.” 

PostScript was included on Apple computers and became one of the first desktop publishing (DTP) systems.

Geschke and his wife of 56 years, Nancy, lived in the Bay Area suburb of Los Altos, Calif.

“He was a famous businessman, the founder of a major company in the U.S. and the world, and of course he was very, very proud of that and it was huge achievement in his life, but it wasn’t his focus — really, his family was,” Nancy “Nan” Geschke, 78, told the Mercury News. “He always called himself the luckiest man in the world.”

WIth a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Geschke began working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where he met Warnock, according to the Mercury News report. 

The two founded Adobe in 1982. They were awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Obama in 2009.

Geschke’s dramatic 1992 kidnapping that made national news. Seized at gunpoint, Geschke was held for four days until a suspect caught with $650,000 in ransom money led police to Geschke, the Associated Press reported.

Geschke remained on the Adobe board until 2020.

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