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Charles Geschke (1939–2021), co-founder of Adobe

by Linnea Crowther

Charles Geschke was the co-founder of Adobe, the software giant that created Photoshop and PDFs.

The birth of desktop publishing

Geschke was working at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s when he began developing the computer language Interpress, which was intended to provide high quality printing. When Xerox wasn’t interested in moving forward with Interpress, Geschke and his colleague John Warnock left the company and founded Adobe Inc. There, they reworked Interpress into PostScript. Working together with Steve Jobs (1955–2011), they incorporated PostScript into Apple’s LaserWriter printer. The combination became the first desktop publishing software, leading to a revolution in the printing industry. As Adobe grew, Geschke served as its COO and then president until his 2000 retirement, though he remained co-chairman of the board until 2017. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama. Adobe’s other notable software includes Acrobat, Flash, and Illustrator.

Geschke on Adobe’s company culture

“Every capital asset we have at Adobe gets into an automobile and drives home at night. Without them, there is nothing of substance in this company. It is the creativity of individuals — not machines — that determines the success of this company.” —from a 1996 interview for IndustryWeek

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Tributes to Charles Geschke

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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