A PDF Day 2001 Salute to John Warnock & Charles Geschke
'Modern-day Gutenbergs whose entrepreneurship transformed the PC from a calculating machine to an artistic platform.'

12 April 2001

A small group of us were out for a quiet Sunday night, pre-Seybold Boston 2001 dinner in the city's Theater District. The next few days were going to be hectic ones, we well knew, taking in two successive days of the special PDF Day programs, and trying to make time to also wander the aisles of the trade show exposition -- in particular, to check out some of the many new Acrobat/PDF plug-ins and products announced here, not the least of which is the release of Adobe Acrobat 5.0.

An earlier scan of the conference program revealed a notable departure from past Seybolds: among the list of keynote speakers, typically leaders within the publishing industry, there was no mention for the first time in recent memory of either John Warnock or Charles Geschke, co-founders of Adobe Systems and long-time Seybold headliners.

So it came as a small surprise as we talked and dined that night on famous Boston chowder to spot John Warnock at a nearby table, looking fit, relaxed and happy at what appeared to be a small family dinner outing.

At any previous Seybold, in the same situation we'd likely have found some excuse to wander past Warnock's table to say hello, and perhaps make an attempt to engage him in some PDF smalltalk. But given his announced retirement last month, it no longer seemed the right thing to do. (Geschke retired a year earlier.) If anyone deserves to have his privacy respected by mere peons in the publishing world that he and partner Geschke were major players in building, it was Warnock. So we chose not to disrupt his private moments, our own small tribute of respect.

At the same time, we at Planet PDF wish to publicly express our humble thanks to and appreciation of both Adobe co-founders, legitimate legends in their industry. We've pulled together a select set of Web links that touch different points in their careers.

Charles Geschke, John Warnock, 1994 Adobe annual report
Co-founders Geschke and Warnock from Adobe's 1994 annual report.

Dr. Warnock on the launch of Adobe Acrobat 1.0:

"Acrobat will fundamentally change the economics of information by removing the critical barriers that have kept electronic documents from moving between computers. "Today's paper-based information is hampered by the physical media. Acrobat technology liberates information and the flow of ideas and allows it to enter the electronic age."
-- John Warnock, Chairman and CEO, Adobe Systems news release, "Adobe Systems Introduces Adobe Acrobat," June 15, 1993

Craig Cline, vice president of content for Seybold Seminars, introducing Warnock and Geschke at Seybold Boston '99, probably their last joint Seybold keynote appearance:

"In my 15 to 20 years working with John and Chuck it is so obvious that they have a deep caring, a passion for the publishing industry. They are driven by wanting to contribute rather than get rich or do whatever people are motivated by. They have a deep caring about this industry and what it translates to in the end is an integrity about what they do. I think you can see in the company that they built and in the products."

During that same keynote, Dr. Geschke explaining the company's success:

"Our framework for success and leadership in this industry is really built around three strategic assumptions. Number one, our aim has always been to build the very best products that we are capable of building, but at the same time keeping an eye on the future, trying to understand what your needs are for what we need to provide in terms of technologies and products but when put together provide a solution that make the entire environment with which you work, an even better place."

"Secondly, we are working very hard and focusing on trying to build products that create a very open platform for the industry. During that based on standards that both we developed and others have developed to make sure that everyone can take advantage of these products and the platform that those standards provide."

"Third, we are working very hard at creating an economic opportunity not only for ourselves, but for our partners in the industry that we serve and our customers. So, customers, integrators, service providers, third party developers, our OEM printer partners. All of them really provide the infrastructure that Adobe tries to support as well as it can."

The San Jose Mercury News recently published one of the more fitting tributes to their highly regarded contributions:

"In Greek mythology, Prometheus brought fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. When John Warnock and Chuck Geschke founded Adobe they did something similar, bringing the power of publishing to anyone with a computer. Others have described the pair as modern day Gutenbergs whose entrepreneurship transformed the PC from a calculating machine to an artistic platform."
-- San Jose Mercury News, March 15, 2001


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