Charles “Chuck” Geschke, the co-founder of Adobe and co-inventor of the PDF, has died at 81. The company made this known through a statement on its page
While he was yet alive, he was known for surviving a kidnapping attempt.
The entire Adobe community and technology industry experiences great loss with the announcement of his death. According to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s address via email to employees, Chuck was a co-founder of Adobe who helped in the development of the PDF. The mail read; “This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the technology industry. He has been a guide and hero to us all for decades.” Narayen also said, “Chuck instilled a relentless drive for innovation in the company. His drive resulted in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop”.
Chuck earned a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After his doctorate, he took a job at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center which is where he met John Warnock. As fate would have it, the pair left Xerox together in 1982 and founded Adobe. The programming language Adobe PostScript, which helped boost the desktop publishing industry was their first product.
Charles served as chairman of the board alongside Warnock from September 1997 to January 2017. He was also a member of the board right up until April 2020, when he became an emeritus board member. But before then, he was the chief operating officer of Adobe from December 1986 to July 1994 and president from April 1989 until his retirement in April 2000. Chuck will obviously be missed as his co-founder in his statement said, “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.”
Even President Obama recognized their impact on our generation’s technology when he awarded Warnock and Geschke the National Medal of Technology in 2009. As if it wasn’t enough that Chuck made such a tremendous contribution to the technology industry, he was also known for surviving a kidnapping attempt in 1992, when two men snatched him upon his arrival at work one morning and held him for four days demanding ransom. Thankfully, he was eventually rescued by the FBI.
With so much pride and love in her heart Chuck’s wife Nancy Geschke (aged 78), told the Mercury News, “He was a famous businessman, the founder of a major company in the U.S. and the world, and of course he was very, very proud of that and it was a huge achievement in his life, but it wasn’t his focus, his family was. She further said, “He always called himself the luckiest man in the world”. He was survived by his wife Nancy, who he was married to for 56 years and had three children and seven grandchildren.
Geschke would be greatly missed. His impact will forever be appreciated, and his true legacy will certainly live on through those who he impacted. I.e. family and friends.