The history of adobe

Microsoft Customer Story-Adobe runs its vast open-source application  portfolio in Azure

Speaking of visualization, the first thing that came up to my mind was Adobe’s software. I believe every incoming designer must have seen a job requirement that says “proficient in Adobe Creative Suite” during recruitment. Thus, in this lab report, I’ll be exploring the history of Adobe, particularly the invention of its major design software and how the software impacts us today. 


To illustrate how Adobe has paved the path for the design field, a timeline visualization was created in TimelineJS. TimelineJS is an open-source tool from Knight Lab that creates visual and interactive storytelling for a timeline of events. Data was manually inputted into a Google spreadsheet template provided by TimelineJS and linked to the timeline visualization. This data included dates, written descriptions, and images for the historical events selected.

The primary data points were collected from three key sources. The first one is Adobe Creative Suite: The history which lists the 20-year history of Adobe’s graphics software. The second one is the Adobe Company History Timeline listed by Zippia, which contains more information about Adobe’s executive team and its business impacts. The third source is a summarized Adobe Corporation History provided by Silicon Valley Historical Association, which gives more details about the two founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke.

Most of the images that were chosen are logos of the Adobe software that people are familiar with, so people can understand what the event is about at first sight without even reading the texts. Some of the images are used to illustrate the development of certain software functions so that the shift can be conveyed more clearly.

After I completed the first draft of the History of Adobe, I sent my timeline to Rachel for review. Rachel provided me constructive feedback that I could improve my visualization by including more interactive visuals like videos rather than just images. Therefore, I replaced the images of the first Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with videos in which the creators demonstrated the first version of the products. Including videos not only conveys the initial version of the products more clearly but also makes reading the timeline more engaging. 

Replaced Image with Video


The resulting timeline illustrates a succinct visual history of the progression of Adobe’s software. Found in 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke, Adobe has been delivering award-winning software and technologies that have redefined and advanced business and personal communications since then.

Their first product, PostScript®, incorporates a page-description language that enables a computer file to be printed exactly as it appears on the screen. By the late ’80s and early ’90s, digital documentation and work systems were quickly progressing, and their graphic and print technologies were revolutionizing the print industry as a modern publishing workflow. The growing success of their technologies would establish the company as a reliable and high-quality solutions provider. Today, enterprises around the world rely on Adobe PostScript for accurately printing documents from any application.

From their early success, the two men quickly expanded their focus to desktop software applications, helping ignite the desktop publishing revolution. Released in 1986 and 1990, Adobe Illustrator® and Adobe Photoshop® were groundbreaking software that redefined the quality and complexity of images that could be created for print, and now, in later versions, extends those benefits to video, film, and the Web. Nowadays, more than 90% of creative professionals worldwide have Photoshop software, for digital image editing and creation, on their desktops.

The first Adobe Illustrator
The first Adobe Photoshop

The 1990s saw more exciting additions to Adobe’s line of powerful, creative solutions. Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects became essential tools for motion graphics, visual effects, and digital video editing. In 1996 Adobe Flash®—which today is installed on nearly 98% of all Internet-connected desktops—began providing the most advanced way to create interactive Websites, interact with digital games and entertainment, and drive mobile content. In 1997 Adobe Dreamweaver became the must-have application for designing, developing, and maintaining Websites. And in 1999 Adobe launched InDesign®, a professional layout and design software that provides sophisticated graphics and typography.

Adobe Premiere 1.0

In January 2000 Adobe was named one of the 100 best companies to work for in America by Fortune. As Adobe approached a new era, it planned to increase profitability and continue developing cutting-edge technological solutions for publishers, graphic and Web designers, and businesses. 

After 21 years, Adobe’s commitment to revolutionizing how people engage with ideas and information is as strong today as it was in 1982. Nearly all text and images seen in magazines, on billboards, in movies, and digital devices—have been touched by Adobe software. With its focus on innovation, Adobe continues to reinvent how the world creates, perceives, and engages with information. 

Adobe Products 2021


I personally enjoyed using TimelineJS a lot because it is highly beginner-friendly and enables to accomplish a simple visualization very easily. As TimelineJS only requires a Google Spreadsheet, creators can visualize timelines by simply filling in a spreadsheet and pulling in media from different sources, which makes TimelineJS very intuitive and quick to update for creators. The interactive feature also makes the navigation more engaging and visually appealing for readers. However, there are still a few weaknesses of this tool. Though I understand that TimelineJS wants to make the visual layout as concise and clean as possible, I still found it a bit frustrating that I could not have multiple paragraphs displayed for the same event no matter how I edited the Google Spreadsheet. Moreover, regardless of how I changed the font styles to bold or italic, none of them can be shown on the published page. I also hope that creators can upload more than one media per event so that the content could be more enriched.

For this visualization of Adobe’s history, the current timeline is primarily focused on the invention of Adobe software from the 1980s to 2000. Since the timeline only shows a small corner of the history of Adobe, it is limited on the length and breadth it covers. In the future iterations, I would like to add more events to the timeline and link the development of Adobe more closely with the cultural and economic backgrounds back then, including the evolution of graphics and printing industries as well as the digital era in the 21st century. I look forward to how Adobe continues to innovate and reinvent the way the world creates, perceives, and engages with information.


“About Adobe.” Adobe, 2021,

“Adobe Company History Timeline.” Zippia, 28 July 2021,

“Adobe Corporation History.” Silicon Valley Historical Association, 2008,

“Adobe Creative Suite Products 2021.” Ladyoak,

“Adobe Illustrator 88.” Pinterest,

“Adobe Photoshop 1.0.” PetaPixel, 14 Feb. 2014,

“Adobe Postscript Logo.” California Surveying & Drafting Supply, 27 Mar. 2018,

“Adobe Premiere 1.0.” Fix the Photo, 2021,

Yegulalp, Serdar. “Adobe Creative SUITE: The History.” Computerworld, Computerworld, 12 Apr. 2010,–the-history.html.