Adobe co-founder Charles Geschke dies

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 19
Computer scientist Charles Geschke has died aged 81. He co-founded Adobe, which, with Apple, created the desktop publishing industry, before famously falling out with Steve Jobs over Adobe Flash.

Apple's revolutionary LaserWriter was powered by PostScript, co-invented by Charles Geschke at Adobe
Apple's revolutionary LaserWriter was powered by PostScript, co-invented by Charles Geschke at Adobe


As Adobe continues moving its flagship apps like Photoshop to Apple Silicon, its co-founder Charles Geschke has died from cancer in his home in Los Altos, California. Geschke and John Warnock had worked together at Xerox in the very early 1980s on what was effectively the earliest version of PostScript.

When Xerox did not want to pursue that project, the two men founded Adobe in 1982. Literally founding it in a garage, they named the company after a creek that ran behind Warnock's House.

"We were best friends," John Warnock told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "We never had an argument."

Their first project was PostScript, which became central to how Apple's LaserWriter and Aldus PageMaker dominated the printing market. These three firms together effectively created what was known as the desktop publishing (DTP), but ultimately just became publishing.

The entire publishing industry was transformed by these three companies together. To this day, the giant majority of publishers use Adobe InDesign.

However, the relationship between Apple and Adobe has at times become adversarial. Steve Jobs criticized it for being slow to update its apps like Photoshop and Illustrator as the Mac moved from 68000 to PowerPC and Intel.

And Jobs most famously refused to allow Adobe Flash on the iPhone.

Adobe did claim that Apple's decision was a business one, but Jobs gave a series of practical and considered reasons why iPhone would not and should not support Flash, in its then-current form.

His reasoning, plus the overwhelming success of the iPhone, led to the complete death of the product over the next decade, with Adobe eventually ending it in 2021.

Charles Geschke maintained that Adobe always and consistently supported Apple, throughout the history of the two companies.

"We never abandoned Apple," Geschke said in 2010, when discussing Flash. "Apple now seems to be abandoning at least one aspect of our product line right now. No, we never abandoned them. We've always ported our apps simultaneously to both platforms."

"There have been times when Apple has changed its strategy on hardware or on operating systems that didn't meet our product cycle," he continued, "so there have been periods of maybe six months where we didn't keep up with their latest release."

"But that's our own business model; we can only afford to re-implement our products at a certain rate. We have never, ever abandoned Apple and we don't want to abandon them today."

In 2011, Geschke was one of the attendees at Steve Jobs's funeral.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Geschke is survived by his wife, Nan Geschke, as well as three children and seven grandchildren.




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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,824member
    Charles Geschke‘s legacy and contributions to the computer industry that are cause for celebration greatly supersede the differences in opinion that he had with Steve Jobs regarding Adobe Flash. We have to remember that Steve Jobs often clashed with his rivals in the business world because he was very passionate and driven about all things Apple and the direction he was taking Apple. However, when it came down to respect and dignity, all of these leaders of industry clearly understood the difference between rivals and enemies. Whether it was Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs and Charles Geschke, the mutual respect was never lost and rivalry never descended into warfare. There’s a very timely lesson to be learned from these men. There’s also the recurring question of “Why doesn’t Xerox own absolutely everything?” 
    watto_cobrajony0viclauyyc
  • Reply 2 of 8
    I personally would like to thank the deceased for the extortionate overcharging Adobe priced its post script fonts at, and for forcing me to run Adobe font manager on my Mac just to open a font suitcase, I would also like to take the opportunity of cursing the memory of one Steve Jobs for developing the concept of post script font emulation and setting me free, an act of pure evil if ever there was one.

  • Reply 3 of 8
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,287member
    The two certainly changed how I worked.

    Prior to their products I would hand write a 30 page document and hand it to a secretary to type on her IBM Selectric.  It was a slow, involved and complex process

    After they developed their products though, I not only typed it myself but got to review and fine tune the finished product quickly and efficiently.  But another major advance was that I was able to throw away my flow charting template and draw program and data flows as pictures that were understandable by the average non-technical Vice President.

    Yes, they made my world a better and more productive place.
    dewmewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 8
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,382member
    I lucky enough to have a brief chat with Mr. Geschke, Mr. Warnock, and a certain Mr. Jobs at a Mac World show. I just can't remember if it was Boston or San Francisco after all these years.  It was shortly before the launch of DTP as we all came to know it.
    dewmewatto_cobraGeorgeBMacjony0StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 8
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,824member
    The two certainly changed how I worked.

    Prior to their products I would hand write a 30 page document and hand it to a secretary to type on her IBM Selectric.  It was a slow, involved and complex process

    After they developed their products though, I not only typed it myself but got to review and fine tune the finished product quickly and efficiently.  But another major advance was that I was able to throw away my flow charting template and draw program and data flows as pictures that were understandable by the average non-technical Vice President.

    Yes, they made my world a better and more productive place.

    Yes indeed. I remember when "copy & paste" involved copying and pasting.

    I'm a bit taken aback that AppleInsider decided to primarily contextualize this mans passing within the scope of "Apple-ness" by focusing on the Flash tiff between Steve Jobs and Adobe. This guy was was a pioneer in the industry, awarded the David Packard Metal of Achievement, the Presidential National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the Marconi Prize, IEEE Computer Entrepreneur Award, a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, the co-founder of a multi-billion dollar company, pioneer of Desktop Publishing, Xerox PARC alumni, in addition to being an active participant in many professional and community affiliations.

    Yes, this is an Apple focused forum, but there's a time and place for looking past the potholes and taking the high road.

    Gerry G - Complaining about Adobe pricing and font packaging in this context? Really? Small, very small.   
    edited April 19 gregoriusmnarwhalGeorgeBMacjony0swat671viclauyyc
  • Reply 6 of 8
    "I sure miss Flash" said no one ever.
    Killing off that technology was one of the best decisions Steve Jobs ever made.
    jony0
  • Reply 7 of 8
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,736member
    Geschke was certainly one of the movers and shakers of the computer industry of the early years.  I'm rather dismayed by those that equate Geschke with the Adobe we all know now.  Given his age, was Geschke even remotely involved with Flash at all?  I would think he long retired and left Adobe to those we somewhat detest now.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 130member
    When I worked at Adobe, Geschke always appeared as a wise and humble man.
    The story he relayed to staff after the kidnapping was quite horrific, about his
    attempted escape and tense FBI negotiations.  

    The Adobe/Apple rift was quite overblown -- sure some of us missed Adobe Premiere
    when it temporarily moved from the Mac to Windows.   But even after some
    business decision-related tension between the two companies (pre-Flash wind down),
    Geschke and Warnock very graciously hosted Steve Jobs at a lunchtime talk
    to go over shared history with Postscript on Apple printers.
    edited April 20 GeorgeBMac
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