Adobe Co-Founder Dr. John Warnock Has Passed Away

Dr. John Warnock

Dr. John Warnock, Adobe’s co-founder and co-inventor of the PostScript technology, passed away at the age of 82 on Saturday.

In a public statement and in an email to all of the company’s employees, Adobe’s Chair and CEO Shantanu Narayen expressed his sadness at the loss.

John Warnock
Dr. John Warnock in 1969 | Adobe

“It is with profound sadness that I share that our beloved co-founder Dr. John Warnock passed away at the age of 82. John’s brilliance and technology innovations changed the world. It is a sad day for the Adobe community and the industry for which he has been an inspiration for decades,” Narayan says.

Dr. Warnock founded Adobe with Dr. Chuck Geschke, who passed away in 2021. The two met while they were both working at Xerox. In 1982 the duo launched PostScript, a groundbreaking desktop publishing technology. Under their watch, Adobe would go on to produce Illustrator, the PDF format, Acrobat, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. Warnock would serve as CEO until the year 2000 when he retired and took on the position of chairman of the board together with Dr. Geschke until 2017. He remained a member of the board until his passing.

Dr. Warnock and Dr. Charles Geschke
Dr. Warnock and Dr. Charles Geschke | Adobe

“While the impact that his innovations have had are countless, it is his indomitable spirit, passion, and belief in building a company with strong values that has impacted all of us who have had the good fortune of working at Adobe,” Narayan says.

“John was incredibly insightful on which technologies would delight customers as well as create business value. John and his wife, Marva, who is a graphics artist, used our products constantly and set the standard for customer empathy.”

Narayan says that a few months ago, he spoke with Dr. Warnock at a 30th Anniversary of Acrobat event and discussed the potential of Firefly, Adobe’s generative artificial intelligence software that is currently in beta. Narayan framed it as having the potential to change the publishing space in a similar manner as PostScript once did, and says that Dr. Warnock didn’t disagree, and also said he always had feedback on how to make it better.

The Adobe CEO did not say if he had a chance to deliver that feedback.

Dr. Warnock received multiple awards in his life, including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (given to him by President Barack Obama), the Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society, the American Electronics Association Medal of Achievement, and the Marconi Prize for contributions to information science and communications. Dr. Warnock is survived by his wife Marva and his three children.

Image credits: Header photos via Adobe. Dr. John Warnock, left. Dr. Warnock and Dr. Geschke unveiling the original Adobe logo, right.