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Formerly known as Adobe Systems Incorporated, Adobe Inc is a computer software company founded by Charles “Chuck” Geschke and John Warnock in 1982. Chuck started his career at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1972.
In 1980, Chuck and John invented a solution of sending documents between a computer and a printer. However, Xerox needed 7 years to market their promising new technology.
7 years would be too long they thought, so both of them took a huge step to leave Xerox and start their own company. They named the company Adobe after Adobe Creek in Los Altos, California – located behind John’s house.
They began working on their new printing technology. This technology enabled users to format, type, compose, and communicate their documents to printers. This invention of Adobe, changed the printing industry from being reliant on a manual, mechanical process to one that is fully electronic and automated.
In the progress of developing the technology, Steve Jobs saw the potential and threw his hat in the ring by offering to buy the then start up company but it was declined. A year before Postscript was launched, Apple agreed to license the software. By 1987, PostScript had become an industry standard program in the industry.
Adobe didn’t stop at the success of PostScript as it grew from strength. In 1987, Adobe Illustrator was released – a vector-based drawing program for graphic designers. In 1989, Adobe released the iconic software Photoshop, a photo manipulation program which dominated the market until today.
Portable Document Format also known as PDF was then released in 1993. It is a vital instrument for sending and printing documents on almost any device on the internet. Other programs follow suit – Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Dreamweaver and many more which have been widely used in the creative industry.
In 2015, PDF became the fourth most popular religion on Google according to a Cogniview, a company that specialises in converting files to various formats. When professionals at Cogniview type “How do I convert to”, Google auto-filled with suggestions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and PDF!
His father, Matthew Charles, who was a photoengraver, told him to avoid the printing business and stock market when he grows up. Chuck believed that for a moment, but his father’s influence in the industry might have equipped him with the knowledge and background of the industry.
In 2009. President Obama awarded Chuck and John the National Medal of Technology for their contributions. Despite his decorated career of building one of the largest companies in the world, Chuck remained modest. He never described himself as a successful businessman.
Instead, Chuck often said that he has never had a business degree, and he had read only one book regarding the subject.
By the way, when we started the company, I did read one business book. I only remember one chapter in the book, the chapter was “Market Gap Analysis”, What it said was…
If you are going to start a product or business, look for a place in the marketplace where there is a need, but nobody has currently got a solution to fill that need. And do that, then you have a 100% market share, and shame on you, if you can’t keep most of it.
John and I thought that was a good idea, and that in fact has been the philosophy behind our business.
On April 16, 2021, Chuck died at the age of 81 in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Los Altos. The cause of his death was cancer. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said, “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.”
As founders of Adobe, Chuck and John developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionised how people create and communicate.