If you are reading or sharing a PDF file on your computer or smartphone, be grateful to this man. In 1980, he and a colleague created a way to send digital documents to printers, and together founded a company called Adobe.
Dr. Chuck Geschke is a computer scientist and entrepreneur who contributed to the development of basic ways to create, share, and print digital documents in the early days of personal computers. Especially the popular PDF file type. He passed away last Friday, April 16 at his home in Los Altos, California. He is at the age of 81 years old.
His wife, Nancy, shared that he died of cancer.
Adobe cofounder Dr. Chuck Geschke in a recent photo
In 1980, at the famous Xerox PARC lab located in the middle of Silicon Valley, Dr. Geschke and colleague John Warnock created a way to send documents between a computer and a printer. The bosses at Xerox then responded that they could bring the technology to market in about seven years. Dr. Geschke and Dr. Warnock, who believed they would miss a big opportunity if they didn’t go faster, left Xerox and formed their own company, called Adobe.
They immediately got to work to market their printing technology. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs visited their small office in Mountain View, California in 1983 and offered to buy the new startup. Friends Geschke and Warnock refused, but Apple agreed to use their technology in the same year, with the familiar name – PostScript.
Just a month later, Apple introduced the Macintosh, which would become the model for desktops, laptops, and smartphones four decades later. The printer used with this line, the Apple LaserWriter, released a year later, is based on PostScript and was created in partnership with Adobe. Dr. Geschke then acted as COO, and Adobe became one of the leading companies in the wave of home e-publishing.
In the past, anyone who wanted to print a flyer, newsletter or financial report would need to find a professional print shop. Thanks to PostScript and a number of other technologies, businesses or individuals can handle such things on their own.
David C. Brock, who is in charge at the Software History Center at the Computer History Museum located in Mountain View, said: “PostScript has provided a language that allows computer software to communicate with a new line of low-cost printers. It opens a time when people can print what they want. “
Over the years that followed, Adobe released a wide range of tools, software for document creation and printing, as well as digital graphics and other imaging tools. Many of them, like Acrobat, Illustrator and Photoshop, have become one of the most popular software on personal computers.
A rare photo between Chuck Geschke and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
But Adobe’s most popular and inspirational product is probably a version of PostScript for the internet age: the Portable Document Format – PDF, is by far the most important form of sending and printing documents. data with all internet-connected devices. Current Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen shares: “A civilization exists on written texts. Chuck and John brought that to the modern age. ”
Chuck’s full name is Charles Matthew Geschke. He was born again in Cleveland, on September 11, 1939. His mother, Sophia Geschke, worked as an assistant attorney at the Cleveland bankruptcy court. His father, Matthew, worked as a photo engraver, with the task of preparing prints for use in newspapers and magazines. Matthew often tells his son that there are two things to avoid in the world: the printing business and the stock market. There was a time when Chuck Geschke took his father’s advice.
A Roman Catholic, he attended Jesuit high school in Cleveland as well as joined a Jesuit seminary after graduating. But he left before the end of his fourth year, on the grounds that he and the Jesuits thought he was unsuitable for a priesthood. The computer world would have been completely different had Geschke followed this path.
After that, he enrolled in a private Jesuit college – Xavier University in Cincinnati and earned a degree in classics here. He then went on to master his degree in Mathematics, before becoming professor of mathematics at John Carroll College, a small Catholic university in Cleveland.
His life took another turn in the 1960s, when he advised a difficult student to leave university. The following year the student returned, telling him: “The best thing I ever did was expel you.”. He found a job – sold computers to General Electric for a high salary, and then he taught his former teacher how to write a computer program on large computers of the time.
Among the simple programs that Chuck Geschke created that summer, was the software that printed the letters announcing the birth date of his daughter. Not long after, he enrolled in a doctorate in computer science – a newly opened faculty at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate in 1972 and began working at Xerox PARC that same year. Five years later, while he was setting up a new research group in “imaging science”, he hired Dr. Warnock. The team’s result is a new language that allows the computer to create documents for printers.
Others at PARC then developed a personal computer called the Alto, with a graphical interface that matched the electronic printing method envisioned by the Geschke-Warnock couple. After Steve Jobs visited the Xerox PARC in 1979 in “the great theft”, the Alto was the device that influenced the graphical interface of the Macintosh. So it was completely understandable for Jobs to approach Adobe.
A year after the launch of the Apple LaserWriter printer, Adobe began its first public release – IPO. At this point, Dr. Geschke was against his father’s advice: he was involved in both the print business and the stock market. Today, Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world, with a market capitalization of $ 245 billion.
Two Adobe co-founders received the National Medal for Technology and Innovation at the White House, 2009.
Adobe’s rapid growth has led to many other problems, including personal security. In 1992, two men kidnapped Dr. Geschke in the Adobe headquarters parking lot, and held him in custody for four days in a rented house in Hollister, California. His family agreed to pay the $ 650,000 ransom, but as soon as his daughter, Kathy, left the money at the designated spot, FBI agents captured the kidnappers and rescued Dr. Geschke.
He continued as CEO of Adobe for another 2 years, as well as serving as president of the company until 2000 and chairman of the board until 2017. He is also a board member of other organizations. such as the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the California Commonwealth Club, and serves as board president at the University of San Francisco.
He and his friend Dr. Warnock were awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by US President Barack Obama in 2009.
Although he helped build one of the most valuable companies in the world, Dr. Geschke does not consider himself an entrepreneur. He likes to say that he has never studied economics and has only read one book on the subject.
Instead, he said, he felt more like an engineer. “Engineers dream of creating something that millions of people will use, that is their ultimate goal.”, he said at an event at the Computer History Museum in 2017, “I don’t think there are many engineers who do everything for money. Their motivation is to make an impact. ”