Co-founder of Adobe Systems, Warnock, passes away at 82 | News

By | August 22, 2023



death – Obituary News : SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe Systems and one of the inventors of the Portable Document Format (PDF), has passed away at the age of 82, according to a statement released by Adobe. The renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneur and computer scientist died on Saturday, surrounded by his family. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Warnock, originally from the Holladay suburb of Salt Lake City, described himself as an average student who excelled in mathematics. He obtained an undergraduate degree in math and a doctorate in electrical engineering (computer science) from the University of Utah. Despite retiring as CEO of Adobe, he maintained close ties with his home state.

The son of a prominent local attorney, Warnock credited a high school teacher at Olympus High School for igniting his passion for mathematics. “I had an amazing teacher in high school who, essentially, completely turned me around,” he said in an interview with the University of Utah’s alumni magazine, Continuum, in 2013. “He was really good at getting you to love mathematics, and that’s when I got into it.”

Although he considered himself a “mediocre” student during his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy, Warnock made a name for himself while pursuing his master’s degree. In 1964, he solved the Jacobson radical, an abstract algebra problem that had remained unsolved for eight years. The following year, he met his wife, Marva Mullins, whom he married just five weeks later.

After a brief stint working at a tire shop, Warnock decided to pursue a career in computer science and joined IBM. He later earned his doctorate at the University of Utah, where he became part of a group of pioneering researchers working on a Department of Defense-funded precursor to the Internet in the 1960s. Even then, Warnock was already focused on developing ways to render images on computers.

In the late 1970s, Warnock relocated to Palo Alto to work for Xerox on interactive computer graphics. It was there that he met Charles Geschke, and together they developed InterPress, a printing and graphics protocol they believed would shape the future. When Xerox hesitated to pursue their idea, they took matters into their own hands and founded Adobe in 1982.


The creation of PostScript, a program that made small-scale printing feasible for the first time, propelled Adobe’s success. However, it was the development of the PDF that truly revolutionized document sharing. With PDF, users could create electronic versions of documents that could be preserved and easily shared with others, who could then search and review them. This innovation had a significant impact on legal, business, and personal communication, ultimately reducing the need for paper copies.

Warnock’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of other iconic Adobe programs, including Illustrator and Photoshop. He served as CEO of Adobe until 2000 and continued to contribute as co-chair of the company’s board of directors alongside Geschke until 2017. Warnock remained a board member until his passing, leaving an indelible mark on Adobe, the technology industry, and the world.

The legacy of John Warnock will forever be remembered as a visionary who transformed the way we interact with documents and digital media. His brilliance and innovations have left an enduring impact on the technology landscape, shaping the world we live in today..