Adobe Corporation

Adobe founders

Adobe Systems and the Information Age have been perfect partners for more than 25 years. Since 1982 Adobe has been delivering award-winning software and technologies that have redefined and advanced business and personal communications.

Based in San Jose, Calif., Adobe is one of the largest and most diversified software companies in the world. Its cutting-edge solutions are used in every corner of the globe and in nearly every industry, from publishing to government to financial services to education to telecommunications. Customers include industry leaders such as Nokia, Yahoo!, Deutsche Bank, Hearst Magazines, and Wal-Mart and major governmental agencies such as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Adobe also works with an extensive network of solution providers who develop customized applications that meet a wide range of business needs.

Finding a solution to the problem of accurately translating text and images from a computer screen to print was what drove Adobe’s founders to start their own company. In the late 1970s, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke met at the renowned Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where they researched device-independent graphic systems and printing. When they realized that their work could revolutionize computing, they left the lab and together founded Adobe—named after the creek that ran behind Warnock’s home in Los Altos, Calif.—and developed a radical new way to print text and images on paper. Their first product, PostScript®, which incorporates a page-description language that enables a computer file to be printed exactly as it appears on the screen, is still the industry standard and now allows digital printing on corporate networks, the Internet and digital document distribution systems.

From their early success, the two men quickly expanded their focus to desktop software applications, helping ignite the desktop publishing revolution. Adobe Illustrator® and Adobe Photoshop® were groundbreaking soft ware that redefined the quality and complexity of images that could be created for print, and now, in later versions, extends those benefits to video, film, and the Web. More than 90% of creative professionals worldwide have Photoshop software, for digital image editing and creation, on their desktops.

The 1990s saw more exciting additions to Adobe’s line of powerful, creative solutions. Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects became essential tools for motion graphics, visual effects and digital video editing. In 1996 Adobe Flash®—which today is installed on nearly 98% of all Internet-connected desktops—began providing the most advanced way to create interactive Websites, interact with digital games and entertainment, and drive mobile content. In 1997 Adobe Dreamweaver became the must-have application for designing, developing, and maintaining Websites. And in 1999 Adobe launched InDesign®, professional layout and design software that provides sophisticated graphics and typography.

Adobe Systems and the Information Age have been perfect partners for more than 25 years. Since 1982 Adobe has been delivering award-winning software and technologies that have redefined and advanced business and personal communications.

Adobe headquarters

Furthering the founders’ vision of reinventing and improving computing, the company introduced software in 1993 it called Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat revolutionized information sharing by enabling people around the world to deliver and receive digital documents exactly as they were meant to be—just as PostScript exactly translated computer text and images to paper. With Acrobat the Portable Digital Format, or PDF, became—and still is—the de facto standard for sharing digital documents. Today more than 250,000,000 PDF files exist on the Web and the world’s top-10 PC manufacturers ship their systems with PDF technology installed. The new century saw the introduction of groundbreaking products for developers and the enterprise as well as for mobile applications. Launched in 2003, Adobe Flex™ gave the enterprise a powerful set of building blocks for creating a richer, more responsive presentation tier for enterprise applications. Adobe’s LiveCycle® family, introduced in 2004, enables enterprises to automate and simplify the flow of information and secures business processes beyond the firewall. Adobe Flash Lite and FlashCast meet increasing consumer demand for compelling, easyto-use mobile data services and Adobe Reader®LE enables mobile devices to interact easily and reliably with PDF files. Adobe Reader and Flash Player software combined can be found on over 700,000,000 connected PCs and devices worldwide.

The start of the new millennium also saw a change in Adobe leadership. In 2000 Chuck Geschke retired, followed by John Warnock in 2001. Current CEO Bruce Chizen continues to focus on the company’s mission of revolutionizing how the world engages with ideas and information. During his tenure, Chizen has strengthened Adobe’s position as a platform provider for software users and developers across a variety of markets. He has also nurtured the kind of company culture that has brought Adobe accolades, including being named eight times to FORTUNE magazine’s “Best Places to Work For” list.

Adobe has established itself as an engaged and responsible corporate citizen worldwide, working to make the places where its employees live and work better, stronger and more vibrant. The company offers cash grants and in-kind contributions, including donated software, volunteer support, and software training, to non-profit organizations. In 2006 Adobe launched a signature philanthropy program, Adobe Youth Voices, aimed at helping young people everywhere acquire valuable technology skills while developing deeper connections with their communities. The company is also a leader in promoting environmental stewardship and creating healthy work environments.

In December 2006, Adobe became the world’s first commercial enterprise to receive three Platinum certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)-Existing Building Program for its facilities in San Jose. LEED certification of Adobe’s other U.S. facilities is underway, and a similar set of environmental standards is being applied to Adobe’s operations around the world.

Adobe’s commitment to revolutionizing how people engage with ideas and information is as strong today as it was in 1982. Nearly all text and images seen in magazines, on billboards, and in advertisements—or experienced in movies and on television screens and digital devices—has been touched by Adobe software. With its focus on innovation, Adobe continues to reinvent how the world creates, perceives, and engages with information. 

This history was written in 2008 by the Silicon Valley Historical Association.

Adobe website