Adobe co-founder Charles Geschke dies at 81

He played a major role in developing PDFs and desktop publishing.


It's a sad weekend for the tech industry. Adobe has confirmed that co-founder Dr. Charles "Chuck" Geschke (shown at left) died of unmentioned causes on April 16th at the age of 81. He and Dr. John Warnock launched Adobe in 1982 after leaving Xerox, and Geschke served as COO, president and board chairman between 1986 and 2017. He was also a board member until April 2020. However, it's the technology Geschke helped develop that you'll most likely remember — there's a good chance you're using it today.

Geschke and Adobe were first known for developing PostScript, a page description language whose power (along with Apple's Macintosh and Aldus' PageMaker) helped establish desktop publishing in the 1980s. He and Warnock are also known for developing the Portable Document Format, or PDF. The technology's ability to preserve layouts regardless of software or platform was groundbreaking when it was introduced in 1993, and it has become crucial for everything from publishing through to everyday tasks like signed forms.

Geschke also backed the creation of the Tech Museum of Innovation (now Tech Interactive) and, along with Warnock, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama in 2009. He also reached headlines in 1992 when he was kidnapped and held for ransom for four days before his rescue.

Geschke leaves behind his wife, three children and seven grandchildren. Adobe, meanwhile, still has a major influence on the tech world and developed some of its most important products while Geschke held leading roles, including Photoshop. In that light, his legacy could endure long after his passing.