Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock has passed away at 82

His work revolutionized industries from publishing to video production.


Dr. John Warnock, who co-founded the revolutionary company Adobe, has died aged 82, Adobe announced on Saturday. He is survived by his wife, Marva Warnock, and three children; no cause of death has been released.

"It is with profound sadness that I share that our beloved co-founder Dr. John Warnock passed away at the age of 82," wrote Adobe Chair and CEO Shantanu Narayen. "John has been widely acknowledged as one of the greatest inventors in our generation with significant impact on how we communicate in words, images and videos."

Warnock created Adobe with the late Dr. Charles Geschke in 1982, and served as the company's CEO until 2000, remaining co-chairman with Geschke until 2017 (Geschke passed in 2021). The company's original logo was created by Marva Warnock, and Adobe released its debut product, the desktop publishing software Adobe Postscript, in 1984.

Adobe went on to launch Photoshop in 1987. It subsequently developed the PDF file format, and released widely used applications like Illustrator, Lightroom, Premiere Pro and After Effects. To that end, the company helped launch the desktop publishing revolution in the '80s, and offers key tools used for the web, video/audio editing and visual effects used in film and television.

Warnock was one of the rare CEOs with high-level technical skills. In his 1969 doctoral thesis, he invented the Warnock algorithm for hidden surface determination. He later worked with Geschke at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, but was unable to convince management to commercialize the InterPress graphics language. That led the pair to form Adobe, where they subsequently created PostScript and released it for Apple's LaserWriter in 1985. Warnock also invented Adobe Illustrator, a drawing program that uses vectors rather than pixels to describe images.

"My interactions with John over the past 25 years have been the highlight of my professional career," wrote Narayen. "At breakfasts with John and Chuck, we would imagine the future, however, it was our varied conversations on rare books, art, world history and politics that gave me unique insight into John, who was truly a renaissance man."

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