Charles “Chuck” Geschke, a co-founder of Adobe who helped develop the PDF, has died at age 81.
Dr. Geschke co-founded Adobe in 1982 with Dr. John Warnock, a colleague from Xerox. Their first product was Adobe PostScript, a pivotal technology that sparked the desktop publishing revolution. Dr. Geschke was chief operating officer of Adobe from December 1986 to July 1994 and president from April 1989 until his retirement in April 2000.
He served as chairman of the board with Dr. Warnock from September 1997 to January 2017 and a member of the board until April 2020, when he transitioned to become emeritus board member. In recognition of his technical achievements, Dr. Geschke was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society, and the American Electronics Association Medal of Honor.
Dr. Warnock, Adobe co-founder, former CEO and Chairman of the Board, shared the following: “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.”
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen sent the following email to all Adobe employees:
It is with profound sadness that I share that our beloved co-founder Dr. Chuck Geschke, has passed away at the age of 81, leaving an indelible mark on our company and the world.
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 co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate. Their first product was Adobe PostScript, an innovative technology that provided a radical new way to print text and images on paper and sparked the desktop publishing revolution. 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.
In recognition of his technical achievements, Chuck was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society, and the American Electronics Association Medal of Honor. After 18 years sharing the helm of Adobe, Chuck retired in 2000 and continued to serve on the Board of Directors until last year, when he transitioned to become emeritus board member.
As much as his inventions changed the world, it is his focus on people, purpose and culture that has profoundly impacted each of us at Adobe. As he always said, Chuck wanted to create a company where he would want to work. He believed that good ideas come from everywhere in the company and that it’s not only what we do but how we do it that matters most. He dedicated much of his time and talent to various philanthropies and community organizations throughout his lifetime.
I spoke to John earlier today and he had this to share about their five-decade partnership: “In 1982, Chuck and I agreed that we should leave Xerox and start our own company. That was the beginning of Adobe. 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.”
I admired his brilliance, kindness and values that defined his character and am grateful that I had the privilege to know and work with him. His absence will certainly leave a huge hole in my heart.
As I grieve the loss of my long-time role model, mentor and friend, I am comforted knowing that Adobe’s best days are ahead – exactly as Chuck would want them to be.
Rest in peace Dr Geschke