Adobe co-founder John Warnock dies aged 82

21 Aug 2023

Dr John Warnock. Image: Adobe

Having co-founded the company in 1982, Warnock was Adobe’s president for its first two years and CEO for the next 16 years.

Dr John Warnock, who co-founded software company Adobe with Dr Charles Geschke more than 40 years ago, has died at the age of 82.

The two men founded the company in 1982 where Warnock took on the role of president for the first two years and became CEO for the next 16 years. He retired as CEO in 2000. He remained a member of Adobe’s board of directors until August 2023.

Prior to co-founding Adobe, Warnock held key positions at IBM, University of Utah, Computer Sciences Corporation and Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

Along with his co-founder Geschke, Warnock was the recipient of the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation, one of the country’s highest honours given to scientists, engineers and inventors.

He was also awarded 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.

‘Vision and passion’

In an email to Adobe employees, current chair and CEO Shantanu Narayen said Warnock has been an inspiration for the Adobe community and industry for decades.

“John’s brilliance and technology innovations changed the world,” he said. “His vision and passion enabled Adobe to deliver groundbreaking innovations such as Illustrator, the ubiquitous PDF file format and Acrobat, Photoshop and Premiere Pro, defining the desktop era and unleashing creativity and opportunity for millions of people.”

Narayen added that while his innovations have been countless, it was Warnock’s “indomitable spirit, passion and belief in building a company with strong values” that had the biggest impact on those who have worked at Adobe.

“My interactions with John over the past 25 years have been the highlight of my professional career,” he said. “While he was my role model and mentor, I am most grateful to count him as a friend.”

Warnock is survived by his wife Marva Warnock and his three children.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic