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Charles “Chuck” Geschke Dies: Co-Founder of Adobe Inc., Which Developed The PDF, Was 81

Bruce Haring
·2-min read

Charles “Chuck” Geschke, whose software company Adobe Inc. developed the ubiquitous Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs, died Friday at age 81 in Los Altos, Calif. His death was confirmed by the company but no cause was given.

“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.

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“As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized 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.”

After earning a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Geschke began working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. That’s where he met Warnock, and in 1982, they founded Adobe, developing software together.

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

In a strange footnote to his life, Geschke survived a 1992 kidnapping, according to a San Jose Mercury News report.

Two men seized Geschke, then 52, at gunpoint when he arrived at work one morning, and took him to Hollister, Calif., where he was held for four days. Eventually, a suspect was nabbed with $650,000 in ransom money and led police to the hideout where Geschke was held.

Survivors include wife Nan Geschke. No memorial plans have been announced.

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