Celebrating John Warnock, Father of PostScript
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 21 August 2023

John Warnock, co-creator of the PostScript Language and co-founder of Adobe Systems, died on August 19th, 2023 at the age of 82. 


J Warnock

John Edward Warnock

October 6, 1940 -  August 19, 2023

Photo from 2009)

The press release from Adobe Systems states:

John and Dr. Chuck Geschke founded Adobe in 1982 with PostScript, sparking the desktop publishing revolution. 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.

John has been widely acknowledged as one of the greatest inventors in our generation with significant impact on how we communicate in words, images and videos. Among many other awards, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, one of the nation’s highest honors bestowed on scientists, engineers and inventors, in 2008; he received the Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society; the American Electronics Association Medal of Achievement; and the high honor of the Marconi Prize for contributions to information science and communications.

John retired as CEO in 2000 and he was chairman of the board, a position he shared with Chuck, until 2017. Since then, he continued to serve on the Board of Directors.

John Warnock came to computing relatively late and prior to that he was a mathematician. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1940 he studied Math at the University of Utah gaining his bachelor's degree in 1961 and an M.S. in mathematics in 1964. After a brief employment with IBM he returned University to do his PhD and to support himself and his wife he took work as a programmer. Thanks to a conversation with Dave Evans (of Evans and Sutherland fame) he became interested in graphics and switching his PhD from Maths to Computer Science submitted a thesis on a solution to the hidden surface problem known as Warnock's Algorithm - one of the shortest in the history of the university. Both the problem and the algorithm, are discussed in  I Programmer's history article, John Warnock - Father of PostScript

Our article also discusses the origins of the PostScript language at Xerox PARC where Warnock worked with Charles (Chuck) Geschke as his boos. Geschke  tried to get Xerox to market the fledgling PostScript language but in 1982 he and Warnock left to form their own company, which took the name "Adobe" from the creek that ran past Warnock's garden in Los Altos (California). The story also goes into how PostScript bailed out the MAC.

More Information

Adobe Co-Founder Dr. John Warnock Passes at 82

Related Articles

John Warnock - Father of PostScript

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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 August 2023 )