Photoshop turns 25

Photoshop 1 as Photoshop turns 25

The ubiquitous Gorilla in the digital room Photoshop just turned 25 years old!  The original concept for photoshop was created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll while Tom was a student at the University of Michigan.  The original name for the program was "Display" which Thomas had created on his Mac.  John worked at Industrial Light and Magic and convinced Tom to turn it into a full fledged program. They originally tried the name ImagePro(*), but it was already taken so they settled on Photoshop. The software was originally released only with a scanner manufactured by BarneyScan (about 200 units were sold). Soon after the program was demoed to Adobe and Apple and in 1990 was released as a Mac only program. For scale, around this time if you wanted to have a photo professionally retouched with the high-end systems it could easily cost up to $300/hr.

Flash forward 25 years and put some modern Photoshop pro's behind the wheel of Photoshop 1.0 and look at the wonders they create...or wonder, how did they ever create anything?

I really think this video would have been better if it had featured more people who are 25 or younger, but who are now Photoshop pros.  But it is still great a great vignette of how things have changed!

There is an important learning lesson here.  I remember when programs like this (and earlier iterations that actually used a pen to draw on a CRT screen) were new. These were no joke to us, they were friggin' cutting edge rocket science. You were able to sit down and in minutes do things that were absolutely impossible for the average person to have done just a year before, much less 25 years prior to this. And you could do things, amazing things, that once could only be done by hand with painstaking precision and years of skill, in only minutes. That is the beauty and the danger of tech. At the moment that you are in right now, you think you are pretty hot stuff with what you can do. In 25 years people will wonder how and why you spent hours and days tweaking so much of what is then automated, basic and so much more varied and rich.

Our future is bright and connected. But don't mock the past, respect it. Because you are already part of what will be your futures past.  And what you are doing today is awesome, because it has not been before, and it is paving the way for the great innovations to come.

Just remember someday it will be 25 years from now for you too ;-) Interestingly, 25 years from now happens to be one of the projected median dates for when the singularity might occur. Thing about the exponential increase in computing power that will be available at that point if it comes to pass.

Enjoy the videos!

(*) ImagePro - Just think about that and what is in a name. Technically ImagePro is probably a better and more descriptive name for the program. But look at how Photoshop is now used in grammar as both a noun and a verb, ImagePro'd just doesn't flow off the tongue so well. Much like how Googling something flows better than Yahooing.

Many thanks to Mike Rende from for finding this awesome related video. Photoshop 1.0 being demoed on the Today show in 1990!