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Celebrating 30 years of digital transformation with Adobe Acrobat

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By Abhigyan Modi, SVP of Adobe Document Cloud

Thirty years ago today, Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock and his team solved a fundamental problem of communicating visual material between people, computer applications and systems. They invented the Portable Document Format (PDF) and Adobe Acrobat that allowed sharing of text and images digitally while preserving the original formatting of a document.

PDF and Acrobat were one-of-a-kind inventions. In days of proprietary software and formats, the PDF specification was made public on day one for anyone to create, consume and process PDFs. The technology in Acrobat to create PDFs was brilliantly based on print pipeline that allowed any application at that time to create PDFs. If an application could print reliably, it could create PDFs reliably!

PDF made digital publishing, collaboration and e-signatures possible, and enabled individuals, governments and cultural and educational institutions to democratize the publishing, sharing and archival of documents with anyone. In 2008, Adobe open-sourced PDF to the world, accelerating the paper-to-digital revolution and fundamentally changing how we work across both our professional and personal lives. And for companies everywhere, PDF is the de facto standard business workflows, empowering organizations to communicate and memorialize their most important documents.

Today we conservatively estimate that there are more than 3 trillion PDF documents on the planet with new use cases emerging every day.

Acrobat Everywhere

Adobe Acrobat is the global standard for consuming, creating, editing and managing PDFs and with hundreds of millions of monthly active users.

Acrobat meets people wherever they work – on desktop, on the web, in browsers, on mobile devices and embedded in other applications. Last year, customers opened more than 400 billion PDFs in Acrobat products and Adobe processed over 8 billion electronic and digital signature transactions.

Acrobat is the top PDF viewer in Google Chrome, with more than a hundred million installs and billions PDFs opened. And in February of this year, Adobe and Microsoft announced that we’re bringing Acrobat’s PDF capabilities to more than 1.4 billion Microsoft Windows users in Microsoft Edge.

Changing How We Work

Acrobat is the engine powering digital work for every size and type of business.

Most entrepreneurs and working pros are time-, resource- and budget- constrained. Acrobat allows them to create, edit, share and request e-signatures from their home office, a client’s site or on-the-go, effortlessly and professionally.

For companies large and small, Acrobat provides a complete solution for creating, consuming, reviewing, approving and protecting business-critical documents – individually and at scale.

Acrobat is the trusted brand-of-choice for PDF security and authentication and integrates with popular productivity applications to deliver safe, seamless collaboration from wherever people work. Using Acrobat APIs, companies can automate document processes and transform the valuable unstructured data inside PDFs into critical intelligence for their business.

Here’s how a few of our millions of customers are leveraging Acrobat to run their businesses:

  • Real estate entrepreneur Mika Kleinschmidt of the HGTV show 100 Day Dream Home runs her business on Acrobat, using the solution for everything from client invoices and proposals for contractors to sharing design inspiration and mood boards with clients.
  • Hundreds of government departments and municipalities around the world use Acrobat to digitize citizen experiences – including all 50 U.S. states. For example, Sonoma County in California is using Acrobat to digitally transform government services for more than 500,000 residents.
  • Highly regulated industries like financial services and healthcare depend on Acrobat to deliver customer experiences that are fast, transparent and accessible, while keeping confidential documents safe and secure. UK-based TSB Bank uses Acrobat to help drive a digital-first strategy for its more than five million customers.
  • HR teams at companies like Airbus use Acrobat to streamline processes across employee onboarding, benefits enrollment, performance reviews and job postings.
  • Educational institutions such as India’s top design school, the MIT Institute of Design, and Tulane University are using Acrobat to power activities like student-instructor collaboration, streamlining enrollment and donations, and ensuring learning materials are up to date.
  • AI Singapore leveraged Acrobat web services to automate the understanding and extraction of unstructured data across various PDF documents to train a sophisticated natural language processing model for a client.
  • Acrobat is also helping support more sustainable business outcomes with digital workflows. Documents created, signed, shared, and stored in Acrobat solutions drive a 90% cost savings and a 95% reduction in environmental impact compared with paper-based processes.

Customer Zero

At Adobe, we use Acrobat to run digital document workflows across our entire business. For example, our legal, sales and procurement teams use the application to accelerate contract turnaround and deal closures, reducing procurement timelines and boosting contract security with audit trails, password protection and more secure delivery.

Creating the Future of Digital Documents

Adobe continues to create the future of digital documents with AI-powered innovation. Liquid Mode is a revolutionary mobile reading experience that runs on Adobe’s artificial intelligence and machine learning framework, Sensei. Today, the number of PDFs read in Liquid Mode each month is in the hundreds of millions.

And the recently announced PDF Accessibility Auto-Tag API uses Sensei AI to simplify and scale the process of transforming PDF content into accessible information, improving legal compliance and providing better employee and customer experiences while saving time and money.

As we work toward the next horizon of what’s possible for digital documents, we look forward to bringing our decades of experience, an unparalleled legacy of innovating PDF and hundreds of millions of customers along on the journey.

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