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Robotic Process Automation

30 years of PDF

The gift that keeps on giving

Today, we take for granted that we can create a document that always looks the same – regardless of the end device, its operating system or software version. We have the Portable Document Format (PDF) to thank! And this year on June 15, it’s turning 30 years old.

We’re celebrating with a look at how work has changed and what we can expect for the next 30 years of PDFs.

A few key PDF stats:

  1. 90% of professionals say they couldn’t do their job as easily without PDFs
  2. 3/4 of archived documents are in PDF format
  3. Approximately $3 billion will be spent on PDF editors by 2025

A short history of the PDF...

Before PDFs, sharing a document meant risking that the fonts might change or images move on the receiver’s end. The invention of a PDF, which virtually printed the document into a fixed format, was as simple as it was ingenious.

How did PDFs begin? Many point to the creation of Postscript in 1984 as the first step – a device-independent and freely available language for printers. In 1990, Adobe co-founder John Warnock devised ‘Project Camelot’, using Postscript to create a document format that would work on any computer.

The key insight was embedding all the required image and font information into the file itself. The PDF as we know it was introduced to the world in 1993. However, it took until 2008 until the format was standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

In 2006, the PDF Association, e.V. was founded in Germany, however in 2011, the organization became the PDF Association, and broadened its scope to cover all aspects of PDF technology. Today, the PDF Association’s memberships, of which Kofax is a proud member, spans across business, non-profit organizations, government agencies right around the globe.


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What PDFs mean for the way we work today:

Whether PDF was invented in 1990, 1993 or 2008, we all agree that it’s changed the way we work. Two-thirds of office workers say they use PDFs daily. They’re widely used in finance, research , education and for legal contracts. In fact, it’s hard to imagine an industry where PDFs haven’t become commonplace. They’re an indispensable part of modern life.

Early versions of PDFs didn’t have hyperlinks and couldn’t be edited, just like how you can’t edit a document printed on paper. The innovation of editing PDFs has fueled their role in the modern workplace as not just a static piece of information, but a crucial component of workflow.

In fact, COVID-19 has increased the popularity of PDF editing. As employees no longer come into an office every day to do their job, remote work and collaboration is more important than ever. The ability to edit a document and send it back to a colleague saves time in digital workflows.

What does the future hold for PDFs?

PDFs save paper and time. Which means they save organizations money, too. Demand for PDF editors is growing by 10% annually!

What’s the next frontier? We can expect strong growth in:

  1. Cloud- based solutions
  2. Automation and AI
  3. Searchability
  4. Compatibility with mobile devices

We can’t wait to see where the PDF will go in the next 30 years. We’re pretty sure we’re just beginning to see what this format can do.

Make the most of your PDFs

As PDF functionality increases, many companies are becoming frustrated at the expense to access the full range of features. Software like Adobe PDF requires a costly monthly subscription with tools that are rarely used.

We think overpaying for PDF software is bad business. That’s why we offer Power PDF as a one-time purchase or on a term basis, a budget friendly way to align with your goals.

Power PDF enables you to edit, create, convert, share and eSign PDF files, making it the #1 global alternative to Adobe PDF. Every document is stored in the cloud and is searchable due to optical character recognition.

The most powerful PDF editor unlocks the full potential of this format for small and enterprise-sized businesses, alike.

Enthusiasm for PDFs is incredibly high, and shows no sign of slowing down, soon.

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