The PDF throughout the years


The PDF format, also known as the Portable Document Format, was created in the 90s by Dr. John Warnock. He launched the Camelot Project, which later turned into PDF in 1992. A year later, the first viewing and creating tools were released that marked the beginning of the digital document’s era. His idea was to develop a way to allow every document to be viewed and printed on every device without modifying its content.


The format wasn’t as popular as it is now, but over the years, the developers turned it into the most successful document format available.

PDF 1.0

The first version of the iconic software was announced in 1992 and then released a year later.

PDF 1.1

The first improvement came two years later and it feature added security features such as password protection and support for external links.

PDF 1.2

The 1996 version included interactive elements, colour, turn the document into an electronic form and extending character sets.

PDF 1.3

The third version was released in 1999 featuring document encryption, digital signatures, annotations, JavaScript actions and more.

PDF 1.4

Released in 2001, the format included transparency and Tagged PDF, which contains meta information.

PDF 1.5

Version 1.5 included presentation transitions, support for layers and added compression.

PDF 1.6

The 2005 version supports OpenType fonts, XML Forms, 3D data and AES encryption.

PDF 1.7

This is the last version of the software that was released in late 2006. The improved settings included more printing options, added security features and control over 3D animations.


In the middle of 2008, the PDF format became an ISO standard. This allowed the developers and the users to benefit from the numerous enhancement allowed by the standardisation.

PDF/X – Printing

This standard was revealed in 2001 by the Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards. Its idea is to ensure that the printed copy is exactly the same as the digital one. Note that active content such as signatures, comments and embedded multimedia isn’t allowed.

PDF/A – Archiving

The PDF/A was released in late 2005 for long-term document preservation. Documents in this subtype remain with their original layout.

PDF/E – Engineering

This standard was introduced in 2008 and is suitable for technical documentation. Moreover, it supports interactive elements such as 3D models, animations and 2D rendering.

PDF/UA – Universal Accessibility

This international standard for people with disabilities, who require specific technology to enjoy the electronic content, was released in 2012.

PDF 2.0

In July 2017, the PDF 2.0 was released with some fascinating enhancements in encryption, printing, digital signing, rendering and more.

Moreover, after its release a new subset was introduced – PDF/Raster 1.0. It is used for storing and exchanging multi-page raster-image documents.

Types of PDF Files

I.Real PDF – The real PDF is used by most applications, when exported to a PDF format. These files are easily searchable and the content can be copied into other files
II.Scanned PDF – It’s just an image represented into a PDF file, onto which you can add additional Header and Footer. To copy text from a scanned PDF file, you will need an additional software.
III.Searchable PDF – After you use the additional program mentioned above to turn the image into a text, it results into a PDF file with two layers. One contains the image and the other one is the text that can be copied and modified products such as the .


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