Can You Believe Photoshop Debuted Just 25 Years Ago?

To gauge how rapidly innovations can revolutionize entire industries and create new opportunities for millions, note that the first version of Photoshop was launched just 25 years ago this month. Who could have imagined how much creative power that program would unleash in designers, photographers, artists, and publishers?

Today, we see imaginative imagery and visual communications everywhere — in smartphone apps, on building-size wall murals, in interactive digital signage, and immersive multimedia displays.

According to a fascinating timeline and an interview published on the Adobe website and Photoshop blog, Adobe shipped its first version of Photoshop on February 19, 1990. The program originated in 1987, when Thomas Knoll developed a pixel-imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother, John Knoll, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1989, Adobe decided to license it.

“Adobe thought we’d sell about 500 copies of Photoshop a month,” recalls Thomas Knoll, Adobe Fellow and Photoshop co-creator. “Not in my wildest dreams did we think creatives would embrace the product in the numbers and ways they have. It’s inspiring to see the beautiful images our customers create, the careers Photoshop has launched, and the new uses people all over the world find for Photoshop every day.” On YouTube, you can watch a video of Thomas Knoll giving one of his first demonstrations of Photoshop.

“For 25 years, Photoshop has inspired artists and designers to craft images of stunning beauty and reality-bending creativity,” said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe president and chief executive officer. “From desktop publishing, to fashion photography, movie production, website design, mobile app creation, and now 3D printing, Photoshop continues to redefine industries and creative possibilities. And today that Photoshop magic is available to millions of new users, thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud.”

Photoshop’s massive popularity can be attributed to its constantly evolving capabilities and pipeline of deep image science. This steady stream of innovations is now reaching customers faster than ever before. The Photoshop and Lightroom desktop and mobile apps are constantly updated as part of Adobe Creative Cloud.

Photoshop 1 was aimed at graphic arts and publishing

In an interview with Russell Brady posted on the Photoshop blog, Thomas Knoll points out that the first version of Photoshop was really ahead of its time: “Photoshop 1.0 and the first several versions weren’t really tools for photography – not only because there wasn’t appropriate hardware available in digital cameras, but more importantly, because there were no digital printers. The only real way to get photographic-quality output from Photoshop back then was to create four-color separations on film and take them to a printing press, where the first copy of your photograph might cost you $2,000…If you wanted to print a roll of 35 millimeter film, you’re talking $35,000 to $40,000. So, Photoshop 1 was primarily aimed at the publishing and graphic arts markets.”

After full-color inkjet printers were introduced, Photoshop users could scan the film, manipulate the images, and print them out. The explosive growth of digital photography in the 1990s further accelerated the widespread adoption of Photoshop.

Photoshop’s success has helped Adobe develop and deliver a wide range of products and services used by tens of millions of creative people worldwide. In addition to Photoshop, applications such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Dreamweaver and others have pushed creativity forward, no matter what the media. And today Adobe Creative Cloud services such as Behance and Creative Talent Search are helping a new generation of creatives find a global audience and market for their work .

Adobe is celebrating Photoshop’s milestone in a big way. For example, Adobe is showcasing 25 of the most creative visual artists under 25 who use Photoshop. To be considered, artists upload their projects and use the tag “Ps25Under25.” In the coming months, those selected will take over the Photoshop Instagram handle (@Photoshop) for two weeks and present their work for the world to see. Fredy Santiago, a 24-year old Mexican-American artist and illustrator based in Ventura, California is the first one chosen to display his incredible images.

Adobe has also launched its “Dream On” advertising campaign as a tribute to 25 years of amazing art created In Photoshop. The TV commercial includes incredible work from Photoshop artists and iconic images from major motion pictures that used Photoshop In the making, including Avatar, Gone Girl, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Shrek.



Adobe Blog Post: Celebrating 25 Years of Photoshop

Thomas Knoll Q&A

Adobe Photoshop Anniversary Timeline