Charles “Chuck” Geschke, whose ubiquitous portable document format, or PDF, software company Adobe Inc. developed, died Friday at the age of 81 in Los Altos, California. His death has been confirmed by the company but no cause has been given.
“This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the tech industry, for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen wrote, in an email to company employees.
“As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed revolutionary software that revolutionized the way people create and communicate,” said Narayen. “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 DTP revolution. Chuck inspired the company to relentlessly innovate, which resulted in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop. “
After earning a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Geschke began working at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. It was there that he met Warnock, and in 1982 they founded Adobe, developing software together.
In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal for Technology.
In a strange footnote to his life, Geschke survived a kidnapping in 1992, according to a San Jose Mercury News report.
Two men seized Geschke, then 52, at gunpoint when he arrived for work one morning, and took him to Hollister, Calif., Where he was held for four days. Eventually, a suspect was caught with $ 650,000 in ransom and led the police to the hideout where Geschke was being held.
Survivors include wife Nan Geschke. No commemorative plan has been announced.