Dr. Geschke had a “look around,” said Shantanu Narayen, the current chief executive officer of Adobe. “Civilization is all about written material,” he said. “Chuck and John brought that into the modern era.”
Charles Matthew Geschke was born in Cleveland on September 11, 1939. His mother, Sophia (Krisch) Geschke, worked for the Cleveland bankruptcy court as a legal entity. His father, Matthew, was a photoengraver, helping to prepare the sheets needed for printing newspapers and magazines.
Matthew Geschke often told his son that there were two things he should avoid: the printing business and the stock market. For a while, Chuck Geschke took his father’s advice.
Raised Roman Catholic, he attended a Jesuit high school in Cleveland and joined a Jesuit seminary after graduating. But he dropped out before finishing his fourth year. He often said that he and the Jesuits had come to the general decision that the priesthood was not for him.
Based on his years studying Latin in high school and in seminary, he enrolled at Xavier University in Cincinnati and graduated with a classics degree. He then went on to obtain a master’s degree in mathematics, before becoming professor of mathematics at John Carroll College, a small Catholic university in Cleveland.
His life took a different turn in the mid-1960s, when he told a struggling student to leave university. The next year, the student came back and told him, “The best thing you’ve ever done is kick me out.” The student found a high-paying job selling computers for General Electric, and he soon taught his former professor how to write a computer program on the big machines of the time.
Among the simple programs that Chuck Geschke wrote that summer was how to print an envelope to announce the birth of his daughter. Not long after, he enrolled in his Ph.D. New computer science student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, one of the country’s first.