Adobe's Acrobat was released in June 1993. Our description is based on pre-release documentation and industry comments.
As described in our node on importing, ASCII files are currently the only way of transferring data across platforms. These files preserve only character information; all formatting and structural data is lost. Acrobat arises from the need for a standard to facilitate document distribution. Acrobat Distiller translates PostScript files to Portable Document Format (PDF). These files encode text, graphics, annotations, hypertext links, and thumbnail views in a 7-bit ASCII format which is device-independent. The specification is public domain, so we can expect other companies to support it. The depth of support will largely determine the success or failure of PDF.
Acrobat Writer is a special printer driver that will enable applications to output PDF files. This strategy allows programs to be almost instantly retrofitted for compatibility with this format. The third software component, Acrobat Viewer, allows users to display, navigate, print, and annotate PDF files. Though details are sketchy, some provision for hypertext navigation will be available.
Adobe addresses the problem of font matching with their related technology multiple master fonts. Acrobat supports the features of SuperATM. Adobe has additionally stated that they will support SGML by the end of 1993. We can also expect additional utilities and publishing tools.
Adobe Systems Inc.
1585 Charleston Road
Mountain View, CA
[1995 update: The Acrobat reader is now available free of charge. This will likely greatly increase the profile of this hypertext tool.]