February 19, 1990, isn’t a day that most geeks have marked on their calendars, but perhaps it should be. That’s the day that a then-little-known software company called Adobe released what would become one of the most influential programs of the computer age: Photoshop.
Technically, Photoshop had already been around for a few years by then. Originally conceived by brothers Thomas and John Knoll, the program was packaged for free with Barneyscan scanners in 1988. But later that year, John demoed the product to Adobe’s Russell Brown by showing a photo that he had doctored of his then-girlfriend (now wife) Jennifer on a beach in Bora Bora. Brown convinced the company to buy it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1989, The Abyss became the first movie to use Photoshop, six months before the program’s commercial release. 1991 saw the release of the Kodak DCS100, the first digital camera. The following year, Photoshop 2.5 expanded the program to Windows. Layers would come to Photoshop with version 3.0 in 1994. Photoshop 6.0 came out in 2000, adding vector shapes. That year also saw the release of the Sharp/J-Phone, the first phone to include a camera, and the first 3D-printed, working human organ. In 2007, the Photoshop family expanded with the introduction of Photoshop Lightroom 1.0.
Today, Photoshop is literally everywhere. It’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of photos you see published anywhere – including here on GeekDad – have been touched by Photoshop in some way, from simple cropping or resizing, to some retouching to remove unwanted artifacts, all the way up to photorealistic images created entirely from scratch.
Of course, Photoshop has seen its share of controversy over the years, and it has certainly given rise to lots of questions as to whether what we see is “real” or not. Journalists and magazine editors have yet to firmly decide on where the line is on just how much is too much Photoshop, and that’s a debate that is likely to continue.
There are literally thousands of software tools out there, but only a handful have become so ubiquitous that they become household words. Even fewer make it to the realm of becoming verbs, and yet today we think of editing photos as “Photoshopping.” Untold designers, artists, photographers, authors, editors and so many more couldn’t do their jobs without it. I for one owe a large part of my career to it.
So let’s all take a moment and raise our glasses, or mice, or Wacom pens to wish Photoshop a very happy 25th birthday.