Happy Birthday: 25 years PDF

The most important data format in today’s working world, whether it is online application, e-mail archiving or longtime archiving, is undisputedly the Portable Document Format (PDF).

What does the abbreviation PDF mean?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is a platform-independent file format for documents that was developed and published by Adobe Systems in 1993.

This format is indispensable for both data transfer and the implementation of a paperless office. It is ideally suited for a wide range of applications, as it guarantees faithful reproduction or printing at all times.

PDF files are perfect for conversion from other formats, because it ensures that a document always looks the same whether it is viewed on a Mac or Windows computer and regardless of the application used to create it.

This year there was a very special anniversary. 25 years ago in the summer of 1993, the PDF data format was presented to the public for the first time!

Summer 2018: The PDF data format turns 25

  • 1993 – PDF 1.0: PDF sees the light of day: The starting point is the desire for a format that functions independently and reliably. Adobe presents Adobe Acrobat and PDF for the first time on June 15, 1993
  • 1994: Adobe offers the Reader free of charge
  • 1996 – PDF 1.3: The Internet is booming and Adobe is laying the foundation for PDFs to be used for colored artwork, CMYK format to be used
  • 1999 – PDF/X standard is published, template true transmission of data from prepress to actual printing is an issue
  • 2001 New features are here: Support of the JBIG2 format, transparencies as well as the description of the logical document structure by tags. The latter makes it easier for people with physical disabilities to access the content (keyword accessibility)
  • 2003 Recently, the integration of multimedia content, such as films or audio files, has become possible. Acrobat Reader is now called Adobe Reader.
  • 2004 – PDF 1.6: It is now possible to have the contents of files read aloud, i.e. to enable barrier-free access (reading form fields aloud via voice output functions) or to make it possible to optimise content for better display via Screen Reader.
  • 2006 Further display options for 3D content and improved encryption algorithms are presented.
  • In 2007, Adobe delivered this version of ISO, which then published PDF 1.7 as ISO Standard 32000 in 2008. In the meantime, six PDF-based standard formats have been published.
  • 2008 – PDF 1.7: PDF becomes ISO standard (ISO 32000-1:2008). Standard based on PDF have been adopted by the ISO committees since 1997. Minimum requirements and restrictions are defined in the process.
  • 2017 PDF 2.0: Support for the PRC file format PRC (Product Representation Compact is a data format for displaying 3D data) and 3D measurement tools. In addition, improved security features are highlighted.

Summary: Today, PDF is used everywhere where data is sent, exchanged or printed. In addition, there are all companies that want to archive e-mails or documents in an audit-proof and legally compliant manner.

How to open a PDF file and how to create a PDF file?

To read a PDF document you need a free Reader (Acrobat Reader DC). To create a PDF yourself, you should create a Word document with Microsoft Office and after completion go to the setting “File/Save as”. Here you select where the document should be saved and select the file type PDF.

More about the different PDF subforms you can find here: 

PDF/A – The format of the future – Part 1: PDF/A-1
PDF/A – The format of the future – Part 2: PDF/A-2
PDF/A – The format of the future – Part 2: PDF/A-3
PDF/A – The format of the future – Part 4: PDF/UA
Personalized Print III: PDF/VT