Why Adobe Is Among The Greatest Software Companies

Adobe has consistently made strategic business decisions to remain competitive and successful in the software industry. The company is renowned for its pioneering products like PostScript and Photoshop, which revolutionised modern visual design. In addition, through acquisitions of companies like Omniture and Macromedia, Adobe solidified its position in the market.

However, perhaps one of the most impressive feats was Adobe’s transition from a licensed software company to a cloud-based software company. This was an exceptionally costly and challenging process, and few companies have successfully navigated such a transition. Yet, Adobe managed to achieve it, securing a permanent foothold in the ever-evolving industry. This is just one of the many instances of how Adobe has made brave and innovative decisions to ensure the company’s continued success.

Like other industry software company giants such as Microsoft and SAP, Adobe has made tough choices regarding its products, adapted its business model, and maintained a dedicated customer base over its 35-year history. These decisions have yielded great results, as Adobe closed 2017 with over US$7 billion in annual revenue and currently boasts a market cap of over US$95 billion.

The Founding Of Adobe

In 1982, John Warnock and Charles Geschke founded the company after developing a unique programming language while working at Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto (California) Research Center (PARC). This language was specifically designed to describe the precise position, size, and shape of objects on a computer-generated page.

Initially known as PostScript, the language described graphics and letters in mathematical terms, independent of any particular computer or printer. Any device capable of interpreting the language could produce an accurate representation of the page at any resolution it supported. Despite Xerox’s lack of interest in bringing the technology to market, Warnock and Geschke decided to start their own company and named it after a nearby creek close to their homes.

Adobe And Desktop Publishing

In 1983, Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.) acquired 15% ownership of Adobe and became the first licensee of PostScript. By 1985, Apple had developed the first Macintosh-compatible PostScript printer called the LaserWriter, which was based on a Canon Inc. laser-print engine. The LaserWriter featured PostScript renditions of classic typefaces and an interpreter that acted as a built-in computer dedicated to translating PostScript commands into marks on each page.

Compared to previous printing options available for personal computers, the combination of PostScript and laser printing represented a significant improvement in both typographical quality and design flexibility.

When combined with Aldus Corporation’s PageMaker, a page-layout application, these technologies allowed any computer user to produce professional-looking reports, flyers, and newsletters without the need for specialised lithography equipment and training. This phenomenon became known as desktop publishing.

At first, much like sports fans were unsure of live golf betting, commercial printers and publishers were sceptical of this new technology, as laser printer output did not meet usual professional standards. However, manufacturers of higher-resolution output devices, including imagesetters led by the Linotype-Hell Company, began to follow Apple’s example in licensing PostScript. Within a few years, PostScript became prevalent throughout the publishing industry.