The company was started in John Warnock’s garage. The name of the company, Adobe, comes from Adobe Creek in Los Altos, California, which ran behind Warnock’s house. That creek is so named because of the type of clay found there, which alludes to the creative nature of the company’s software. Adobe’s corporate logo features a stylized “A” and was designed by Marva Warnock, a graphic designer who is also John Warnock’s wife.
Steve Jobs attempted to buy the company for $5 million in 1982, but Warnock and Geschke refused. Their investors urged them to work something out with Jobs, so they agreed to sell him shares worth 19 percent of the company. Jobs paid a five-times multiple of their company’s valuation at the time, plus a five-year license fee for PostScript, in advance. The purchase and advance made Adobe the first company in the history of Silicon Valley to become profitable in its first year
Warnock and Geschke considered various business options including a copy-service business and a turnkey system for office printing. Then they chose to focus on developing specialized printing software and created the Adobe PostScript page description language.
PostScript was the first truly international standard for computer printing as it included algorithms describing the letter-forms of many languages. Adobe added kanji printer products in 1988. Warnock and Geschke were also able to bolster the credibility of PostScript by connecting with a typesetting manufacturer. They weren’t able to work with Compugraphic, but then worked with Linotype to license the Helvetica and Times Roman fonts (through the Linotron 100).By 1987, PostScript had become the industry-standard printer language with more than 400 third-party software programs and licensing agreements with 19 printer companies.
Warnock described the language as “extensible”, in its ability to apply graphic arts standards to office printing.
Adobe’s first products after PostScript were digital fonts, which they released in a proprietary format called Type 1, worked on by Bill Paxton after he left Stanford. Apple subsequently developed a competing standard, TrueType, which provided full scalability and precise control of the pixel pattern created by the font’s outlines, and licensed it to Microsoft.