The concept for the Portable Document Format was invented in 1991. This file type was originally code-named The Camelot Project, getting the name PDF in 1992. By 1993, Adobe Reader launched, enabling everyday computer users to open and edit PDFs. Here are eight reasons why PDF is the most important file format in the world:
In the United States and across the globe, businesses and consumers use PDFs to share and store information. Invoices, contracts and many other corporate documents are often transmitted this way. This advanced technology is a huge help for e-commerce. With a free PDF editor such as PDFSimpli, companies can eSign and send PDFs to customers living in Europe, Australia, Asia or other places instantly.
Before PDFs showed up, people had to submit their annual tax returns using paper forms. This resulted in an annual mailing of over 100 million items. Lost forms, shipping errors and misfiling made paper documents a major pain for Americans and for the IRS, too. That’s why the IRS was one of the first government agencies to embrace PDF forms.
By 1994, the IRS started distributing tax forms as PDFs, and in 1996 it went fully online. People could fill out digital tax forms and print them out quickly. These days, you can eSign and submit PDF tax forms in minutes.
One of the biggest advantages of using PDF versus other types of files was that the format was free. People anywhere could download a free version of Adobe Reader and view PDFs. In contrast, for many years, to open a Word document, you needed to buy and install a version of Microsoft Word. This turned PDFs into a true global phenomenon.
While text documents were around for quite a while before PDFs showed up, they lacked the formatting and security tools needed for trustworthy information storage. With PDFs, however, suddenly companies could shift their corporate records into digital format. This kept data safe and secure while avoiding significant paper waste and physical storage requirements.
It’s pretty incredible to think that PDFs have literally been around for ages. Adobe Reader launched in 1993, so the PDF file format has reigned supreme for over 25 years. Why is it still going strong so long after launch?
For one thing, PDFs have adapted to modern technology. Also, they work with any kind of document, from magazines and catalogs to tax forms and infographics. This flexibility means that you can include images, text, e-Signatures, videos, website links and tons of other kinds of content.
The Library of Congress, National Archive and the Internet Archive all store historical documents in a version of PDF called PDF/A. This format is ideal for safeguarding priceless treasures of information because it carefully conserves the original appearance of documents. Even family histories and other records have been stored in PDFs.
PDF/A documents hold all the information needed to render data, including fonts, images and color profiles. Nuances of color and layout details are carefully preserved, allowing books to be faithfully reproduced if paper versions are lost or destroyed. The idea is for future generations to have a complete record of modern masterpieces.
This ability of PDFs to store information related to layouts, fonts and images is one of the reasons they’re still so popular today. For example, you can convert a PDF to Microsoft Word format, but you lose a lot of information in the process. Word docs are great for mailing tiny text files, but they don’t capture the original look of a book or magazine. If you want something that looks awesome visually, you need PDF.
These days, PDFs have entered a golden age. People can read and edit PDFs using laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. Scanning paper documents into PDF format only takes a few seconds. You can even snap a picture of an invoice on your smartphone, eSign it using a PDF editor and mail it to a company halfway around the world. Now that’s something pretty revolutionary.