• Man who Revolutionised Information Tech

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Yesterday we learned that Charles M. Geschke, the co-founder of Adobe, has passed away. He was also involved in the invention of PDFs. It’s a great loss to the world of technology, and today we look back on the life of the man who changed the face of desktop publishing forever.

Early life and education of Geschke

Charles M. Geschke was born on 11. September 1939, born in Cleveland, Ohio. Little is known about his early life except that he attended St. Mary’s College. Ignatius High School. At the same time, the rewards are not hidden from anyone.

Geschke was Catholic and met his wife Nancy Nan McDonough, also a Catholic graduate. They met in the spring of 1961 at a church conference on social action and married in 1964. In 2012, they were awarded the St. Louis Prize. Elizabeth Ann Seton of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) for their contributions to Catholic education.

Geschke’s mother was an attorney in bankruptcy court. Geschke’s father and paternal grandfather both worked as typographers. Geschke’s father helped in the early days of Adobe by checking color separation with a magnifying glass. Mr Geschke described his father’s recognition of the high quality of the images as a wonderful moment.

Mr. Geschke earned a bachelor’s degree in classical languages (1962) and a master’s degree in mathematics (1963). He received both at Xavier University itself. Moreover, there was a very small gap between the completion of his master’s degree and the beginning of his educational career. He began teaching mathematics at John Carroll University in 1963. He taught there until 1968.

Geschke received his doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Melon University in 1972. He can thank William Wolfe for this, as it was his advice that prompted Geschke to pursue a doctorate. In fact, the two men became so close that Geschke co-authored Wolfe’s book, Optimizing Compiler Design (1975).

There was no turning back. Charles M. Geschke founded many successful companies after entering the professional world.



His doctorate, obtained in 1972, gave him easy access to his first job. He worked at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which was owned by Xerox. Initially he was asked to work on the development of the mainframe. He also worked on language programming. It was during this time that he developed the instruments that would become the XEROX STAR workstation.

Despite these impressive innovations, the game changed in 1978. Geschke set up a visual science lab at Xerox PARC. That’s where he did his research: –

  • Graphics
  • Informatics
  • Optics
  • Image processing, etc.

He also hired his longtime research partner, John Warnock, with whom he developed INTERPRESS. This was the language of the page description. It can also handle complex formats such as . B. Describe the forms of writing. Both hoped that Xerox could easily commercialize the invention. However, when Xerox failed to realize its business value, even after persuasive arguments, Geschke and Warnock resigned.


In 1982, they co-founded ADOBE Systems and the first workstation was installed in Warnock’s garage. There they worked on improving Interpress, which later became Adobe Postscript. Maybe it’s just a happy coincidence, but it has led to hardware that is ready to be integrated into an Apple computer (including Apple’s new LaserWriter printer). Together, these two elements form the world’s first desktop publishing (DTP) system.

At the same time, it became possible to type and compose documents on a computer. In addition, they could also see a sample of the print as well as the actual print. This means users can now expect prints to look exactly as they appear on screen. This is made possible by the WYSIWYG process, also known as What You See is What You Get. This new approach has enabled business users to dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of their document management and has spawned an entire industry.

Thus Geschke revolutionized modern printing and publishing.

The problem was: –

  • Chief Operating Officer of Adobe from December 1986 to July 1994.
  • Chairman from April 1989 until his retirement in April 2000.
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors of Warnock from September 1997 to January 2017.
  • member of the Board of Directors until April 2020, after which he was appointed an honorary member of the Board of Directors.
  • Member of the National Academy of Engineers and member of AKM

Distinctions and honours Geschke

  • 1999 : Geschke is listed in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
  • 2002 : He was awarded the Computer History Museum for his achievements in commercializing desktop publishing with John Warnock and for his innovations in scalable typography, computer graphics, and printing.
  • 2006 : Mr. Geschke, along with his co-founder John Warnock, received the annual AeA medal. They were the first software executives to receive this award.
  • 2008 : IEEE Computer Society Entrepreneur of the Year Award… He was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • 2009 : President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
  • 2010 : ¬†Marconi Society, written with Geschke and Warnock, received the Marconi Award.
  • 2012 : ¬†Mr. Geschke delivered the graduation speech at John Carroll University in University Heights, OH. It was a university where he was a professor of mathematics. He received an honorary doctorate in humanities.
  • 2013 : On his 116th birthday. On the day of the inauguration, Carnegie Mellon awarded Charles Geschke an honorary doctorate in science and engineering. He also spoke at the School of Computer Science’s graduation ceremony at Carnegie Music Hall.

Attempted kidnapping of Geschke

The reason we included this incident is that it is an important part of Geschke’s story. In the parking lot of the adobe itself, two armed men kidnapped him at gunpoint and held him for four days.

The kidnappers allegedly took Geschke hostage at a bungalow in Hollister. The FBI wiretapped the kidnappers’ phone calls to Geschke’s wife for ransom. In fact, it was during the payment of the ransom that the authorities abducted the kidnappers. Finally, after four days in captivity, the FBI rescued Geschke.

Eventually, state authorities sentenced the two kidnappers to life in prison.

Charles M. Geschke’s contributions are timeless and will revolutionize modern information processing and publishing for years to come.


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