Adobe Acrobat

From Academic Kids

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Adobe Acrobat Reader running on Debian
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Adobe Acrobat was the first software to support Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format.

It is mostly described in those entries. The Acrobat Reader program (now just called Adobe Reader) is available as a no-charge download from Adobe's web site, and allows the viewing and printing of PDF files.

Commercial Acrobat programs (of which there are several) allows some minimal editing and adding of features to PDF documents, and come with other modules including a printer driver to create PDF files from Macintosh or Microsoft Windows applications.



Since the early 1990s, the Acrobat product had several competitors who each used their own document formats, such as:

By the late 1990s PDF had become the de facto standard, and the others had become largely historical footnotes. This in turn has led to many more competitors for Adobe Acrobat, both free and commercial.

Today, there are a host of third-party programs that create or manipulate PDF, such as Ghostscript. Adobe also allows Acrobat plug-ins to be developed, which can add extra functions within the Acrobat program; such as Enfocus Pitstop.

Product names

Adobe has changed the names of the products in the Acrobat family regularly, also splitting products up, joining them together, or discontinuing members. This causes much confusion, not only about what product to obtain, but even about what product people have.

As of 2004, the current main members of the Adobe Acrobat family are

  • Adobe Reader 7 (previously Adobe Acrobat Reader); no-charge software to read or print PDF files.
  • Adobe Acrobat Standard 7 and Adobe Acrobat Professional 7; commercial (paid for) software to create PDFs and to manipulate them in various ways. Between version 3 and 5 these were one product simply called Adobe Acrobat.
  • A growing collection of server and specialist products

Adobe has never created a product called either Adobe Writer or Acrobat Writer, although these names seem a natural opposite to the Reader product. Purists and pedants dislike these made-up names. To add more confusion, Acrobat used to include a printer driver called PDFWriter.

Acrobat product history

Version 1

  • Acrobat Reader 1.0 for DOS, Windows 3.1 and Macintosh. This was not available in single copies and was not initially free. After a while the IRS purchased a right to distribute Reader 1.0, effectively making it seem free to those who obtained it that way.
  • Acrobat Exchange 1.0 (included PDFWriter printer driver and Acrobat Exchange application).
  • Acrobat Distiller 1.0. Created PDF from PostScript (no printer driver at this stage).

Version 2

  • Acrobat Reader 2.0 for Windows and Macintosh. Now free.
  • Acrobat Exchange 2.0, package as 1.0.
  • Acrobat Professional 2.0, which included the contents of Acrobat Exchange, plus Distiller.
  • There were 2.1 updates.
  • Acrobat Catalog was introduced, using Verity technology to create searchable indexes to PDF files. Searching required a special version of Acrobat Reader, not free, or Acrobat Exchange.

Version 3

  • Acrobat Reader 3.0. The first to display PDF files in-browser, and the first to support form filling.
  • A free Reader to allow searching was made available, but was not part of the default download.
  • Acrobat 3.0 – replaced Acrobat Professional 2.1. Included Acrobat Catalog, and a Distiller printer driver.
  • Updates to 3.01 and 3.02; 3.02 introduced extended forms capabilities and JavaScript.
  • First release with support for Windows 95 and later. Last release with support for Windows 3.1.

Version 4

  • Acrobat Reader 4.0.
  • Acrobat 4.0.
  • Updates to 4.05.
  • Introduced Distiller Server 4.0, identical to the regular Distiller but with a multi-user license (Windows, Linux, Solaris).
  • Acrobat Business Tools 4.0 – a limited version of Acrobat.

Version 5

  • Acrobat Reader 5.0.
  • Acrobat 5.0. PDFWriter removed from Macintosh application.
  • Updates to 5.0.5. Acrobat 5.0.5 was the first to be able to run native in Mac OS X, but also ran in Mac OS 9.
  • Distiller Server 5.0.
  • Acrobat Approval 5.0 – a limited version of Acrobat, mainly sold to people who wanted to digitally sign or save fill in forms.
  • Distiller Server 5.0.
  • Acrobat Reader 5.1 – supported extended rights assigned by Adobe server product (e.g. forms saving).

Version 6

  • Adobe Reader 6.0 (no Linux or Unix versions)
  • Acrobat Professional 6.0 – replacement for Acrobat 5.0, with new features. Distiller printer driver renamed Adobe PDF. PDFWriter now gone for good. New version of Catalog integrated and not compatible with earlier products for searching.
  • Acrobat Standard 6.0 – limited version of Acrobat Professional, including Distiller but lacking features including Catalog, form design, prepress support.
  • Updates to 6.0.1, 6.0.2 and 6.0.3.
  • Dropped support for Windows 95 and Windows 98 First Edition. Acrobat Professional was Windows NT, 2000, XP only. Dropped support for Mac OS 9 and earlier. First release for Mac OS X.
  • Distiller Server 6.0.
  • Acrobat Elements 6.0 – PDF creation only, aimed at the corporate market (minimum 1000 licenses, Windows only)
  • Acrobat Elements Server 6.0 – client/server version of Acrobat Elements
  • Technology for "Reader enabling", allowing Reader to save, sign or annotate PDF files if the licensee had enabled the files.

Version 7

  • Adobe Reader 7.0
  • Updates to 7.0.1 and 7.0.2
  • Acrobat Professional 7.0 – now includes Adobe LiveCycle Designer 7.0 (Windows only) for XML form design (different and incompatible with previous form support)– Ability to embed 3D object information from the .u3d Universal 3D format
  • Acrobat Standard 7.0
  • Acrobat Elements 7.0 (now minimum 100 licenses)
  • Windows 2000, XP, Mac OS X only for Acrobat, although Linux and Solaris versions of Adobe Reader have been released.

External links

fr:Adobe Acrobat ja:Adobe Acrobat


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