25 years of Photoshop – Part of History


It would be easy to argue that Adobe’s Photoshop has been the most influential design software of our generation. For more than 25 years, Photoshop has been the right hand to illustrators and graphic designers. It is one of the most powerful pieces of software on the market today. However, Photoshop did not start out as the sophisticated creation and illustration software that it is today. In fact, it has come a very long way over its lifespan. In celebration of the anniversary of the magnificent software, let’s take a look at just how much Photoshop has evolved since its creation more than 25 years ago.

The Birth of Photoshop

It all began back in 1987 when brothers Tom and John Knoll were doing some work on their father’s Apple II Plus computer. Thomas, a photography enthusiast like his father, decided that he wanted to do some alterations to a photograph image. He ended up writing a subroutine for the computer which enabled him to be able to translate the monochromatic images through a grayscale. Of course it was a very primitive version of the software, but the Knoll brothers continued to tweak and work on the program and found that they were able to create several different processes that allowed them to be able to perform different alterations on their images. Just like that, Photoshop was born.

At the time, John was already working on the development of special effects for George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. He was the one that recognized the true potential in his brothers programing to turn the applications into a revolutionary image editing software program. Although, it is highly unlikely that either one of them really had any idea just how successful the program would be or how much of an impact it would have. The two teamed up combining vision and expertise and finally in 1988 released the first version of the software which they named Image Pro.

Stepping Stones

Once the program was out on the market, the Knoll brothers recognized the potential for growth if they were to partner up with other companies to launch additional software and expand awareness of their product. Their First partnership was with Barneyscan, a manufacturer of scanners that first purchased Image Pro to ship out with 200 of their scanners. Under that partnership the software was actually named Barneyscan XP. Due to the success of the initial partnership with Barneyscan, the Knoll brothers thought it would be easy to obtain additional partnerships to further launch their program. They were wrong.

It took them months of bids and proposals to a variety of different companies, where they saw rejection after rejection, before they finally pitched their product tot Adobe for partnership. Finally, they were able to win over the affections of the Adobe executives and convince them to rerelease the Image Pro software under the Adobe brand name. Finally in 1990, Adobe released the very first version of Photoshop known as Photoshop 1.0.

Changing Landscapes

The initial launch of the first version of Photoshop was met with tremendous success. It was the first time the software or any of its kind was released for sale to the general public as a standalone software program rather than being bundled together with the Barneyscan scanners. Due to the success, Adobe decided to proceed with further development and expansion of the original software. The following year in 1991, Adobe released Photoshop 2.0 with a plethora of new features to excite users. As the years went on, the brothers alongside with the engineers at Adobe continued to grow and develop the software, constantly adding new features. They saw some bugs and kinks along the way in the early 90’s due to problems with the amount of RAM needed and the transition from being offered exclusively for MAC computers to Windows computers, but their commitment to the products success showed in the software. By the end of the century, Photoshop had become an institution of all its own among the digital design and illustration industry. It was a staple for professional artists of both small and huge proportions and it was changing the shape of the way imaging was created altogether.

Fast forward to today and Adobe Photoshop has become one of the most powerful and instrumental software programs on the market. It boasts a number of features that the Knoll brothers probably never could have imagined when they began working on Image Pro back in the 80’s. It is constantly changing at a rate of never before, which despite causing some frustration among users, allows artists and illustrators to further develop their work in new and exciting directions that were never before possible. The software has become so complex that most people will need to take classes to be able to get started with the program and its many layers. However, it is an absolute must for any modern designer. Just as it has been exciting to watch Photoshop come to life and develop over the last quarter century, it will be even more exciting to see what the developers have in store for the future of the program in the years to come.

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