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  • Writer's pictureJohn Shelburne

What does PDF stand for and how do I extract data from it????



Unveiled in 1991, the PDF was the fix for “the inability to exchange information between machines, between systems, between users in a way that ensured that the file would look the same everywhere it went.”



PDF, which stands for Portable Document Format, is a file format developed by Adobe Systems in the 1990s. The idea behind PDF was to create a file format that would be independent of hardware, software, and operating systems. With PDF, users could create visually compelling, multi-page documents that could be easily shared and viewed on any device, regardless of operating system, without the need for specialized software.


The origins of PDF can be traced back to the early days of desktop publishing. At the time, creating a document that looked the same on different devices and platforms was a major challenge. The problem was that different devices, software, and operating systems had their own unique rendering engines, and these engines interpreted fonts, colors, and graphics differently. As a result, a file created on one device wouldn’t look the same on another.


In the late 1980s, Adobe Systems began developing a solution to this problem. They created a new type of font, called PostScript, that could be rendered on any device, regardless of hardware or software. This breakthrough allowed Adobe to create a new document type that was truly portable, one that could be viewed and printed exactly as it was created, no matter where it was opened.


In the early 1990s, Adobe released the first version of PDF. The format was an immediate hit because it allowed users to create rich, visually appealing documents that could be shared and viewed easily. The simplicity and portability of the format quickly made it a standard for document-sharing.


Since the release of the first version, PDF has undergone many improvements and enhancements. Today, PDF documents are used in a variety of contexts, from legal documents to graphic design projects. They are easy to create, easy to share, and easy to view, making them a key tool for modern communication.


In conclusion, the origin of the PDF document type can be traced back to the early days of desktop publishing in the 1980s. Adobe Systems developed the PostScript font, which allowed them to create a new type of document that was truly portable, independent of hardware, software, and operating systems. The first version of PDF was released in the early 1990s, and since then, the format has gained widespread popularity due to its simplicity, portability, and versatility. Today, PDF is a ubiquitous tool used for a wide range of document-related tasks, and it remains an essential part of modern communication.


Now everyone wants to get that data out of PDF and into a library that will feed ChatGPT or a Large Language Model.

Here are some sites that might help

Extracting tabular data



Python Code on Github

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