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How PDF Became One of the World’s Most Important File Formats

The Adobe-created PDF file format isn’t particularly sexy these days, but Ernie Smith of Tedium suggests that it has become one of the world’s most important file formats thanks to its role in providing digital versions of paper documents. Smith documents how most people didn’t understand the point of PDF until the U.S. Internal Revenue Service adopted it in the early 1990s in an effort to cut down on mailing about 110 million tax forms every year. By 2001, the IRS had gone all-in on PDF for tax forms, saving millions of dollars in printing and distribution costs.

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