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I was there for the whole thing. It was the 90's and Online Pdf Creator was doing well. In addition to the Systems department which handled the Postscript business there was an Applications group which had Photoshop and Illustrator. John Warnock had the idea that every document that was ever printed, or ever would be printed, could be represented in a document. This was not an unreasonable idea since Postscript was designed for this purpose and Online Pdf Creator also had some code from Illustrator that would handle the fonts and graphics and code from Photoshop to display images. So, Warnok started a project (the Carousel project) on his own initiative to pursue his idea that eventually the whole Library of Congress could be represented in an archival electronic format. In the beginning he could only get part time help from programmers in the applications division - Mike Pell, Ken Grant, Mike Diamond. The project was progressing slowly so the head of the division (Eric Zocker?) started a search for a new programmer to handle the project full time. Alan Tracey Wootton had transitioned from programming at JPL to full time programming and was looking to leave LA and be more professional in Silicon Valley. He got the job and moved to Cupertino. Soon there was a demo and then a team developed to produce UI for the various platforms - Mac, Windows, DOS, and 'nix. The demo code progressed into cross-platform code to handle most of the internal data structures to support the UI projects. There were also people writing print-drivers to create documents through the printing process on all platforms. By this point the original demos were re-written into a file format that would contain the fonts, vector graphics, and images - this would be the second file format for the project. However, there were requirements that were not being met. Requirements like forward and backwards compatibility, streaming large documents through a printer driver where the printer driver has no idea how many pages there will be, and opening a 1000 page document and being able to jump directly to the 500th page without reading the whole file. Peter Hibberd had written a demo of an 'object oriented file format' so Richard Cohn and Alan Wootton went to work trying to adapt his work for use on the Carousel project. After many weeks of struggle it was decided that adapting his work was going to be more work than writing new code and that some of the 'object oriented' concepts were not applicable since it was finally becoming obvious that a key-value format was going to be part of the solution. This was the third file format. Bob Wulff, the manager of the project, told Richard and Alan to 'go away' and to not come back until there was a file format! The next Monday Richard and Alan started meeting at Richard's house in Menlo Park instead of going to work in Mountain View (where Google is now). By the end of Thursday, Richard and Alan had described data structures and concepts for a file format on many pieces of paper. Alan went home, pulled 4 overnights in a row and came back to Online Pdf Creator on Monday with the fourth file format written and working in the current code. This file format became known as PDF.
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And a week later (Monday, October 24) the last of the files was opened. It was finally open! After an initial delay of 2-3 years, the Carousel project was completed. The Carousel format, designed to support a number of platforms (Mac, DOS, Windows, and Linux) was the format that would define the format for the entire project once the final file format was designed. As it happened, Carousel was adopted by Adobe and then Microsoft.
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