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Co-founder of Adobe has died at 81

Charles "Chuck" Geschke, a co-founder of Adobe who helped develop the Portable Document Format (PDF), has died at age 81, the company said in a statement.

It is clear that this loss has a huge impact on the entire Adobe community and the entire technology industry, to which he has been a hero and guide for over 30 years.,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen wrote in an email to employees of the technology firm.

Narayen said that as co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock have developed cutting edge software that has revolutionized the way people create and communicate. "Chuck was responsible for instilling a relentless drive for innovation in the company, resulting in some of the most important software products of all time, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Photoshop."

After earning a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Geschke took a job at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, which led him to meet Warnock. In 1982, they left Xerox to found Adobe. They started with Adobe PostScript, a programming language that boosted the desktop publishing industry.

From December 1986 to July 1994, Geschke held the position of Chief Operating Officer of Adobe and President from April 1989 until April 2000, when he retired. He served as chairman of the board with Warnock from September 1997 to January 2017 and was a member of the board until April 2020, when he became an emeritus member.

Warnock said in a statement, “I could never have imagined having a better, likable, or more capable business partner.” 

“Not having Chuck in our lives will leave a hole, and those who knew him will all agree with me.”

Geschke was not only recognized for his contributions to the technology industry, he was also known for having escaped from a kidnapping attempt in 1992. In the early morning of that day, he was kidnapped by two men as he arrived at work. They held him for four days, demanding ransom. In the end, the FBI managed to rescue him.

The National Medal of Technology was awarded to Warnock and Geschke by President Obama in 2009.

“He was a famous businessman, who founded a major company in the U.S. and around the world, and he was very, very proud of the work he did, but his family was really his focus” his wife Nancy Geschke told the Mercury News. “He always referred to himself as the luckiest man in the world.”

Geschke is survived by his wife Nancy, who he was married to for 56 years, as well as his three children and seven grandchildren.

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Chuck Geschke John Warnock Narayen Shantanu Narayen

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