Adobe co-founder John Warnock dies aged 82

John Warnock, co-founder and former CEO of Adobe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Adobe co-founder John Warnock has died aged 82, according to a statement from the company. 

CEO Shantanu Narayen notified staff of Warnock’s passing on Sunday, hailing the co-founder and former CEO as “one of the greatest inventors in our generation”. 

"It is a sad day for the Adobe community and the industry for which he has been an inspiration for decades," Narayen said in an email.

Narayen added that his interactions with Warnock during his time at the firm “have been the highlight” of his professional career. 

"While he was my role model and mentor, I am most grateful to count him as a friend.”

Warnock spent more than 35 years at Adobe, steering it through an extended period of growth which saw the firm position itself as a leader in the digital design software space. 

From 1982, Warnock served as CEO until 2000 before stepping down. Thereafter, he served as co-chairman alongside Geschke until 2017. 

Warnock remained deeply involved with the company in recent years, having also remained on Adobe’s board of directors after stepping down as co-chairman.

Adobe co-founder John Warnock receives the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from US president, Barack Obama

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Warnock was widely recognized as a pioneering figure in the tech industry. In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by former US President, Barack Obama.  

John Warnock's pivotal role at Adobe

Warnock co-founded Adobe, known widely for its Photoshop, Acrobat and Premier Pro platforms, alongside Charles Geschke in 1982. 

The pair formed the company following a short dispute with Xerox over the development of the PostScript programming language, both of whom had been working on the project during their time at the firm’s Palo Alto-based research center. 

PostScript, a page description language for use in electronic publishing, was the first program launched by the newly-founded firm in 1984, and rapidly grew in popularity.

This growth was, in part, fueled by the programming language’s adoption by Apple in 1985 for use in the blossoming tech giant’s Apple LaserWriter; the first printer to leverage PostScript.

Apple’s involvement in Adobe’s early years was notable, having acquired a 15% stake in the firm a year into its journey.

Four decades on from its formation, Adobe has become one of the most recognized brands in the global tech industry. With a market capitalization of over $231 billion, the firm certainly holds its place as a heavyweight in the industry and boasts around 30 million customers through its Adobe Creative Cloud platform.

In recent months, Adobe has been embroiled in a back-and-forth with regulators over its proposed $20 billion acquisition of rival firm, Figma.

Regulators in both the UK and European Union have raised competition concerns over the deal, arguing that it “threatens to significantly affect competition in the market for interactive product design and whiteboarding software”.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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