The PDF turns 30: Adobe is celebrating what is perhaps the most important file format on the Internet


The PDF turns 30! What is perhaps the most important file format on the Internet is celebrating a milestone birthday and its inventor, Adobe, can look back on a rare success story.

The PDF has become an indispensable part of the modern working world. Adobe is now celebrating its 30th anniversary. (Source: Adobe)

  • In 1993 Adobe introduced the PDF.
  • Since then, the file format has revolutionized the modern working world.
  • But in the beginning there was only the idea of ​​being able to print out documents better.

Anyone who wants to send a document securely, reliably and guaranteed to be printable these days cannot avoid it: the Portable Document Format, or PDF for short. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the invention of what is perhaps the most important file format on the Internet and that is reason enough for Adobe to pause and look back on its own success story.

It began in 1993. After Adobe was able to record initial successes in the telecommunications industry with the PostScript format since it was founded in 1982, Adobe co-founder John Warnock worked on a new file format together with his “Camelot” team of experts.

At that time, the correct print result of a file was still a challenge and depended on the compatibility of the printers and programs used. The PDF should change this: With it, a document should be reproduced exactly as the creator designed it, regardless of the software and hardware of the recipient.

With ISO standard to “world standard”

With the recruitment of Windows programmer Bob Wulff, Warnock and his “Camelot” development team were able to create a first demo version of the new format for IBM. The PDF was completed internally by 1991, in January 1993 it was first presented to a broader public, and on June 15, 1993, the finished file format and the appropriate reading program Adobe Acrobat were finally published.

In the years that followed, the format was continuously developed and many functions were implemented. Security features, a comment function, search function and digital signatures followed by the year 2000, which not only increased user-friendliness but also promoted trust in the format.

Adobe founders Charles M. Geschke and John E. Warnock revolutionized the world of work with the PDF.

Adobe founders Charles M. Geschke and John E. Warnock revolutionized the world of work with the PDF. (Source: Adobe)

Most Microsoft formats have also been convertible to PDF since 2001. Now private and professional users could easily save their documents from the popular office software “Microsoft Office” as PDF. This made the PDF more accessible to a growing number of users.

In 2008, the PDF was handed over to the “International Organization of Standardization” – the highest standardization authority for telecommunications based in Geneva. Since then, the PDF has been freely available to mankind in various languages ​​as ISO standard 32000 together with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

30 years of technical development and innovation

By 2011, Adobe added support for image and video content in the form of JPG, MPEG, and MP3. These formats are among the most popular in the new online world.

However, ancient evils such as crime and counterfeiting have also found their way into the new digital spaces. Adobe has therefore devoted itself to the development of new encryption technologies, digital signatures, password protection and editing options for years.

This is to ensure that the trust of private users and business in PDF as a format for secure information exchange is maintained. At the same time, despite all this, comfortable and productive work and editing should be guaranteed.

This also applies to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have become indispensable in our everyday (work) life. The PDF is well equipped for this and offers the optimal basis with the latest innovation from Adobe.

The Liquid Mode improves the PDF layout especially on mobile devices and optimizes the display. At the same time, the in-house AI Adobe Sensei refines the reading experience by evaluating your reading habits and documents.

From the print template to the environmentally friendly office cosmos

Today, after three decades of continuous development, Adobe offers an entire ecosystem for digital document management. In addition to the pure PDF file, for example, the Adobe Document Cloud for electronic transactions and signatures.

Thanks to Adobe Scan, the original idea has now been reversed and you can use your smartphone to create PDFs from printed documents and book pages in no time at all. In this way, even old works are preserved and reproducible.

With Acrobat Pro, Adobe offers a variety of useful tools for document management.

With Acrobat Pro, Adobe offers a variety of useful tools for document management. (Source: Adobe)

Adobe has made the modern working world possible with the PDF and also helps to avoid paper waste with every digitally opened document that does not have to be printed. According to Adobe’s internal statistics, 400 billion PDF files were opened last year, over 8 billion transactions processed digitally and 2.5 billion documents scanned, archived and shared. Incidentally, you can find out how many resources you can personally save with the PDF in Adobe’s carbon footprint calculator.

Adobe has changed modern communication with PDF and Acrobat Reader. Happy Birthday.pdf.

Take the chance and test the multitude of functions of Adobe Acrobat Pro for 7 days free of charge.

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