PDF documents are commonplace today: paper manuals for software and hardware have mutated into online links for do-it-yourself PDF downloads. Read Me files, brochures, and other documents are also pervasive as downloadable PDFs. Entire websites exist to help liberate you from the tyranny of keeping paper documentation on hand.
So it’s just a hazy memory for most of us to recall the days back in the early 1990s when you could only read PDFs if you had Adobe Reader installed, and if you wanted to create PDF files, you had to have Adobe Acrobat. Known by its full name, portable document format, the PDF was Adobe System’s proprietary format until 1993 when the company made the file specification available for free.
It actually wasn’t until July 1, 2008, that the portable document format was released as an open standard for all to use. That’s when the floodgates opened to the dozens of third party PDF readers, viewers, creators, editors, and converters—both as free and paid versions.
But what’s so special about PDFs anyway?
First: They are compact files and can be viewed on just about any platform – create it on Windows and easily opened on Macs, Android, iOS, you name it.