Adobe Systems founders John E. Warnock and Charles M. Geschke are being awarded the Marconi Prize today at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. The two visionary business leaders and technological innovators together helped fundamentally transform the world of print communications from a manual, mechanical process to a digital work flow.
The Marconi Prize, awarded annually by the Marconi Society, is considered the highest honor specifically devoted to the field of communications and information science. It was established by the daughter of Guglielmo Marconi in 1974 to recognize living scientists whose work in the field of communications and information technology has advanced the social, economic and cultural improvement of all humanity.
Geschke and Warnock met in the late-70s in Silicon Valley and worked together at the legendary Xerox PARC, where their similar backgrounds and philosophies helped forged a close bond. While there, they developed software they felt had tremendous potential, but couldn’t convince Xerox to include it among the firm’s commercial products. They left to form their own company, Adobe Systems, with funding from Bill Hambrecht, one of Silicon Valley’s most visionary investors.
Their first product, PostScript, attracted the attention of technology’s heavy hitters. By the end of 1985, the market had embraced the software, which fundamentally improved the cost, productivity and efficiency of the graphic arts, printing and publishing businesses. Adobe went on to create programs that have become household names: Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, InDesign, Premiere, and Flash, among others.
Charles Geschke retired from active management as president of Adobe in 2000. John Warnock stepped aside as CEO in 2000 and retired in early 2001. Today Geschke and Warnock are co-chairmen of the board.