Today Adobe Photoshop is 25 years old and is going strong. Photoshop has become so much a part of the global popular culture that all major dictionaries now have the definition of Photoshop not just as a noun but a verb too. “Oh, that‘s been Photoshoped!” is a common phrase said by more people who have never actually seen, let alone touch the software. The fact is, Photoshop everyday, has touched the lives of almost everyone on the planet that has seen a photograph or image. In fact this digital imaging software has grown to the point that it can even edit video, audio, and 3D files. Such is the power of Photoshop.
Back in 1987 Thomas Knoll developed a software program called Display designed to work with grayscale image files in small prepress houses. As interest in Knoll’s application grew, he began working with his brother John to further design a program they could pitch to the young software company Adobe in 1989. Well the rest is imaging history. Adobe bought it, changed the name and released it in 1990 and Photoshop version 1.0 was born. Its tool set included; Lasso Tool, Crop, Magic Wand, Eyedrop Tool, Smudge Tool, Stretch/Shrink, Hue/Saturation Adjustments, Feathered Edges, Blur Tool, and Gradient Tool. Along with these classic tools were a set of menu commands that offered no image preview.
Photoshop’s influence on digital imaging cannot be overstated. Considering there were no consumer level digital cameras in 1990, Photoshop was a professional prepress tool used with scanners. Photoshop was also designed to work with hardware anyone could buy. First developed for the Mac and then for Windows in 1992. Also consider that it was Kodak who introduced the first professional DSLR in 1991, the DCS-100. This was a Nikon F3 body rigged to a computer processor and sensor that yielded a 1.3 megapixel image and cost $20,000. The average selfie smartphone camera is 5x more power then that!
Twenty five years is a long time in software years. There have been several mighty giants in the software world that have fallen or completely disappeared. Yet Adobe and its flagship application, Photoshop not only survive but thrive. Its very existence has created other companies that embrace Photoshop’s API in support and to extend the power it offers all those who use Photoshop. And when a company shows real innovative competition, Adobe simply absorbs them into their creative ecosystem.
Today, Photoshop support the editing and creation of image files on almost every device that’s out there. There has also been many debates about the ethics of image manipulation in the media as competition for public attention looms large. There are also debates as to what constitutes a professional image maker now that anyone with a camera or even a phone can create stunning images using Photoshop. So, Happy Birthday Photoshop, it will be exciting to observe what you’ll be offering up in the next 25 years or the next several months.