Alumni profile: Adobe creator Charles Geschke

By: Charlotte Cheek ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Geschke cofounded Adobe after graduating with a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. He once resided in Los Atlos, Ca. with his wife Nan.

One of Xavier’s most noteable alumni is Charles Geschke, co-creator of Adobe Systems Inc. Geschke graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in Latin, and in 1963 he earned his master’s in mathematics.

Adobe is a leading transnational publishing and digital software company, responsible for many groundbreaking creations, such as Photoshop, Adobe Reader and the PDF.

Retired mathematics professor and 1963 graduate Dave Flaspohler was a friend of Geschke’s.

“I was a student at the same time he was,” Flaspohler said. “I was a year ahead of him. I was a graduate student when he was a senior. We were pretty close friends. He actually helped me move into a house when I was a graduate student.”

According to Flaspohler, after graduating from Xavier, Geschke taught at John Carroll University.

“At the time there was a federal program with the National Science Foundation (NSF) called Science Factory Fellows, and it was a program that encouraged the improvement of the teaching of math and science of college campuses,” Flaspohler said. “It gave people with at least six years of college teaching experience a chance to go back and have a year with virtually everything paid for by the NSF.”

After receiving a NSF fellowship, Geschke got a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Soon after, Geschke, a Cleveland native, moved to California to work for Xerox, where he met his future business partner. Geschke cofounded Adobe Systems Inc. with John Warnock in 1982.

Since the creation of Adobe, Geschke received many awards, including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and Entrepreneur of the Year. Additionally, in 2011, Geschke was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Xavier.

Flaspohler spoke highly of him.

“Say nice things about him, because he is a really good guy,” Flaspohler said. “I remember having conversations with him about his approach towards running a big business. I think he learned a lot about being a man for others, here and at other places he went to school. It really affected how that business was built.”

Dr. William Larkin was the chair of the mathematics department while Geschke and Flaspohler were in school.

“I was very proud of their achievements in later life. He [Geschke] was an excellent student,” Larkin said.

According to Flaspohler, Geschke currently lives in Cincinnati and serves as the cochair of Adobe.