Knowledge Hub

The Adobe Story

If there’s one company that has set the industry standard for photo and video editing, it’s Adobe. It’s the go-to choice of millions of designers and is even used in professional films and TV shows. Here’s the story of how a software built out of a California garage is now a multi-billion-dollar company.

Prithvi Manjunatha

If there’s one company that has set the industry standard for photo and video editing, it’s Adobe. It’s the go-to choice of millions of designers and is even used in professional films and TV shows. Here’s the story of how a software built out of a California garage is now a multi-billion-dollar company.


If you didn’t already know, Adobe is a software company that provides digital and media marketing solutions to its users. These tools and services enable customers to create, publish, and measure leading digital content in media.

The company helps its customers create, manage, measure, and monetize their content across all channels and pages. The main products are Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Freehand, InDesign, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, and many more. Adobe is a leading global provider of digital marketing and digital media solutions.

Their tools and services enable their customers to create premium digital content, publish it, measure and improve it over time, and achieve greater business success. Adobe helps its customers create, manage, measure, and monetize their content.

Small Humble beginnings

The company was founded in 1982 by John Warnack and Charles Geschke. The two computer scientists worked at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California and developed a programming language that was specially developed to describe the exact position, shape, and size of objects on a computer screen.

This page description language, later known as PostScript, described objects such as pictures in a platform-independent mathematical terms. When Xerox refused to commercialize the technology, Warnack and Gashkeh started their company, naming it Adobe Creek, after a stream near their home.

In 1983, Steve Jobs tried to buy Adboe for $5 million. The founders refused but agreed to sell him shares worth 19%. Jobs paid five times their company's valuation at the time, plus a 5-year license fee for PostScript, in advance. This purchase made Adobe the first company in the history of Silicon Valley to become profitable in its first year.


Adobe released its first stock in 1986. Despite sales soaring to $168.7 million in 1990, Adobe's relationship with Apple deteriorated in the late 1980s due to PostScript royalties, and in 1989 Apple announced it would sell its Adobe shares collaborate with Microsoft to develop an improved version of PostScript.

Known as the Font War, this controversy caused a stir in the computing and publishing world for more than a year before Apple and Adobe reached a compromise. After the agreement, Microsoft discontinued its PostScript version and adopted TrueType for its Windows operating systems.

Adobe entered the NASDAQ in August 1986. Its revenue has grown from roughly $1 billion in 1999 to $4 billion in 2012. On December 3, 2005, Adobe acquired its main rival, Macromedia, in a stock swap valued at about $3.4 billion. ColdFusion, Contribute, Captivate, Adobe Connect, Director, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, FlashPaper, Flex, FreeHand, HomeSite, JRun, Presenter, and Authorware are a few in the long list of Adobes suite of services that were added in this acquisition.

Birth of Photoshop

In 1989 Adobe introduced its flagship product, a graphics editing program for the Apple Macintosh called Photoshop. Photoshop was created by Thomas and John Kroll in 1988 and later sold to Adobe. Photoshop 1.0, stable and quite prominent, was cleverly published by Adobe and quickly captured the market. In 1995, Adobe paid $34.5 million to the Kroll brothers to acquire Photoshop rights.

In 1993, Adobe PDF introduced a portable document format and Adobe Acrobat and Reader software. PDF has become an international standard: ISO 32000-1: 2008.

In December 1991, Adobe released Adobe Premiere, which was renamed Adobe Premiere Pro in 2003. In 1992, Adobe OCR Systems, Inc. acquired Adobe Aldus in 1994 and added PageMaker and After Effects to its product line that same year. Also controls the TIFF file format. In the same year Adobe LaserTools Corp and Compution Inc. 

In 1995 Adobe added FrameMaker from Adobe Frame Technology Corp. added a document-length DTP program to its product line. In 1996 Adobe acquired Ares Software Corp. In 2002, Adobe acquired the Canadian company Accelio, later known as JetForm.

In May 2003 it bought Adobe Cool Edit Pro from Syntrillium Software for $ 16.5 million, as well as a large loop library called Loopology. Adobe Cool Edit Pro then renamed it Adobe Audition and added it to the Creative Suite.

For Creatives

1. Adobe Aero

2. Adobe After Effects

3. Adobe Air

4. Adobe Animate

5. Adobe Audition

6. Adobe Behance

7. Adobe Bridge

8. Adobe Capture

9. Adobe Character Animation

10. Adobe Content Server

11. Adobe Dimension

12. Adobe Dreamweaver

13. Adobe Flash Builder

14. Flash Professional

15. Adobe Fonts

16. Adobe Typekit

17. Adobe Fresco

18. Adobe Fuse

19. Adobe Illustrator

20. Illustrator Draw

21. Adobe InCopy

22. Adobe InDesign

23. Adobe Lightroom

24. Lightroom Classic

25. Lightroom Mobile

26. Adobe Media Encoder

27. Adobe Photoshop

28. Photoshop Express

29. Photoshop Camera

30. Photoshop Fix

31. Photoshop Mix

32. Adobe Portfolio

33. Adobe Prelude

34. Adobe Premiere

35. Premier Elements

36. Premier Rush

37. Adobe Scout

38. Adobe Spark

39. Spark Page

40. Spark Post

41. Adobe Stock

42. Adobe Substance

43. Adobe XD

For Marketers

44. Adobe Experience Cloud

45. Adobe Advertising

46. Adobe Analytics

47. Adobe Target

For Businesses

48. Adobe Captivate

49. Adobe Connect

50. Adobe FrameMaker

51. Adobe Presenter

52. Adobe RoboHelp

53. Adobe Sign

For Everyone

54. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

55. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

56. Adobe Scan

Why Adobe gets the love it gets?

One of the reasons that Adobe set the industry standard is that its products are robust and foolproof. There’s no better alternative to Adobe’s wide suite of services that have you covered no matter what you want to do. Their functionality and integration with each other make it seamless to transfer files between multiple supporting applications. 

Adobe Suite is also jam-packed with features. It beats competitors and open-source alternatives. Furthermore, Adobe takes software updates very seriously, fixing any bugs and implementing newer features regularly. 

Why Adobe gets the hate it gets?

Adobe is not a perfect company. They’ve been criticized heavily for their pricing plans. In some non-US countries, users have to pay twice as much for the same product. In 2007 Adobe revealed that European customers will need to pay $3,050 for their Creative Master Suite as compared to $2,499 paid by American customers. Keeping exchange rates in mind, the products should have been available to European customers for $1,900. This led to over 10,000 people signing a petition to protest over unfair pricing. This didn’t bother Adobe as they further increased prices in 2009 by 10% in the UK. To rub salt into the wound, they were banned from purchasing Adobe products in the US store.

In April 2021, a customer tweeted a picture of Adobes cancellation fees, which was a whopping $291.45. Adobe prices have also been regarded as premium, with prices ranging from $20/mo to $60/mo. Students and freelance artists usually struggle with this pricing, which is why Adobe is one of the most pirated software out there.


Adobe has a wide variety of plans, ranging from all apps to only a select few that are targetted to a niche such as creators or photographers. They also have a student/teacher plan which is significantly cheaper. Individual apps can also be purchased. 

Companies and firms can also opt for the business plan which has management and syncing to make teamwork smoother.

  1. Creative Cloud: $52.99./mo for all apps
  2. School/University: $34.00/mo for all apps
  3. Business:$79.99/mo apps

To wrap it up…

Adobe certainly brings a lot to the table with an array of services to choose from. They also have a 7-day trial period so make full use of that before purchasing any plan. There are customers who have been loyal to Adobe for years together, and there are some who turn away from Adobe and to open-source or cheaper alternatives due to their track record of competitive pricing strategies and customer practices. So pick your side wisely but be sure to do your research.

For SaaS enthusiasts like you.

Every Sunday, we send an exclusive weekly SaaS column and in-depth analysis straight to your inbox. Subscribe and Stay informed, for free.

get SaaS Weekly

SaaS Dialogues

Explore all ›

Learn From The Best SaaS Knowledge Hub