When you think of retouching, image editing, just about anything to do with processing photography these days, what do you think of? Thomas Knoll’s famous software, Photoshop. It’s so ubiquitous, it’s become a verb (much to Adobe’s chagrin). The original version showed up for sale 20 years ago today, running on Mac’s OS 6.
Knoll originally wrote the software to display grayscale images on a monochrome display, in 1987. His brother, John Knoll of Industrial Light & Magic pushed him to turn it into an image editing program. When he showed it to Apple and Adobe in 1988, they were both on board and Adobe decided to license it. The original program was Mac-only.
The software has been added to consistently and has turned into the powerhouse we know today. I think still based on that original code. Might be worth a re-write, á la Apple’s Snow Leopard, to lean out the code and make it more nimble and efficient. Though otherwise, can you even imagine what life would be like without it? Hundreds of tools have been added, and in 2005 Adobe rebranded their core image/design programs as the “Creative Suite” and Photoshop went from Photoshop 7 to Photoshop CS. Confusing, and started the numerals over. Photoshop CS4 is the equivalent of Photoshop 11.
Photoshop is the world in which I live much of my day, I’m grateful for it. It’s given me controls I never had in a traditional darkroom, control over the final image that I’d never imagined before getting started editing scans of my own work in version 2.5. It was amazing giving up the expense of paper and smelling like glacial acetic acid for DAYS after spending time in the darkroom. I can wax poetic about the wonders of the traditional darkroom as well as the next guy (assuming the next guy is old enough to have experienced developing film and printing it), but who am I kidding? I LOVE Photoshop and the related programs. In the hands of a hack, it gives you results you can see on places like photoshopdisasters, but in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing it can give you magic! Ansel Adams would have used Photoshop, I’m sure of it. He was a control freak, and there are few programs to rival Photoshop in terms of control of an image.
So here’s to you, Photoshop, and to Thomas Knoll and the rest of the team – Happy Anniversary!!!