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Adobe Co-founder Dr. Charles Geschke Passes Away at 81

Adobe co-founder Dr. Charles Geschke passed away on Friday at the age of 81, the company announced on its website.


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.” In an email to employees, Narayen wrote, “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."


Meanwhile, Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock said, “I could never have imagined having a better, more likable, or more capable business partner. Not having Chuck in our lives will leave a huge hole and those who knew him will all agree.”


Dr. Geschke was born on September 11, 1939. Before co-founding Adobe, he founded Xeros Palo Alto Research Center’s Imaging Sciences Laboratory and was a principal scientist and researcher at the research company’s Computer Sciences Laboratory. At Xeros PARC, Dr. Geschke and Dr. Warnock developed the Interpress page description language, which the company failed to commercialize.

Image source: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania website

“I wasn’t so surprised by our experience with Interpress, because I had seen what had happened with all the other technologies that preceded it,” Dr. Geschke said in an interview for the 2001 book Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days, when asked if he was surprised by how Xeros PARC “didn’t see the value” of what he and Dr. Warnock had been working on. “They [Xeros PARC] never figured out a way to commercialize the Ethernet. They had managed to commercialize the original laser printer… but it was for mainframe computers.”


Dr. Geschke and Dr. Warnock founded Adobe in 1982. The company released its own page description language, Adobe PostScript, in 1985, with Apple’s LaserWriter being the first printer to use the language. These events contributed to the development of desktop publishing in that time.

Dr. Geschke served as Adobe’s chief operating officer from December 1986 to July 1994 and as president from 1989 until 2000. From 1997 to 2017, he served as chairman of the board alongside Dr. Warnock. Dr. Geschke remained on the board of directors until 2020, when he became emeritus board member.


Dr. Geschke is survived by his wife Nancy Geschke and three children.


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