Happy Birthday Photoshop

After reading the post over on Creative Review about Photoshop being 20 years old it got me thinking, could we have survived without it?

With numerous face lifts you’d be forgiven for thinking Photoshop was a lot younger.  It has come on absolute leaps and bounds in recent years since Creative Suite marched its way onto all our computers, but let’s not forget the humble origins of 1987’s ‘Display’ (as ‘ImagePro’ was already taken) to the launch of Photoshop1.0 in 1990.  Adobe estimated 500 floppy disc sales of the program, just proving even the best of us get it wrong sometimes eh? (20million sales to date with CS5 to be launched this year).

Knoll (one of Photoshop’s original developers) mused “Before Steve Jobs came back, in their dark period, I’ve often thought that it’s quite possible that without Photoshop being an exclusive Macintosh product when it came out, Apple might not have survived.”

A bold statement.  And to be honest, it could quite easily be true given that in 1990 this is generally what Apple looked like:

A text heavy far cry from the colourful Apple we all know and (mostly) love today:

From a more personal point of view there are two things I’m almost certain of.  A lack of Photoshop would have forced me to be a better photographer, and secondly, CS1-4 would have been a bit cheaper.

Having said that, if it wasn’t Adobe it would have been someone else.  It may not have been eventually called Photoshop as this is (despite the pre-90s ‘Display’ effort) and it may have looked a little different over the interface, but no doubt a similar functioning program would have come about.  Chances are someone, like the now historic Macromedia, would have brought us the market leader in photo manipulation, and had Photoshop not contributed so greatly to Adobe’s success, Macromedia may still exist today (I must admit I do occasionally still use Freehand!).

Everything from the magnetic lasso, to colour tweaks, layer masks, all the re-touch capabilities and everything else that is great about Photoshop, these would still grace our desktop as a slightly different looking icon and we would still be entertained by both the good and the bad of our “photoshopped” generation.

The fact that it has established its own verb says something.  People that are not designers or creatives in anyway, that have never used Photoshop in their lives, throw the word around just as commonly as “Wiki it” or “Google it”, which proves what a staple it is to our lives.

Yes we probably would have survived had Photoshop not existed, but we’re so much better off, and so much more entertained, that it has.


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