What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

On stage at Adobe’s MAX 2008 conference Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen introduced CTO Kevin Lynch who, in turn, served as Master of Ceremonies for presentations by a parade of programmers, product managers, and other Adobe tech types.

Watching in the audience throughout the keynote presentations was Adobe co-founder, former CEO, and current co-chairman, John Warnock. One wonders what was going through his mind as Adobe demonstrated the latest advances in their communications platforms and software tools for designers and developers.

Twenty-six years ago Warnock and co-founder Chuck Geschke started the company intending to sell integrated publishing systems to large corporations. Instead, they became a software company. Warnock and Geschke threw away their initial business plan and decided to market their core technology — the PostScript printer language — to printer manufacturers. (For more on the evolution of Adobe’s original business plan, see my interview with Adobe co-founder Chuck Geschke in Knowledge@Wharton.)

Now with PostScript, PDF, the Flash Platform, and a wide array of tools for creating print, video, and rich Internet content, the company is at the nexus of the digital communications revolution.

Who would have predicted this a quarter of a century ago? It will be interesting to see what the next 5 or 10 years bring.

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