Here's What Working With Photoshop 1.0 Was Like

The year was 1990. The Hubble Space Telescope had just been launched, Microsoft released Windows 3.0, and Sinéad O'Connor wanted you to know that "Nothing Compares 2 U." In addition, Adobe released Photoshop 1.0, starting the revolution.

I have a weird fascination with technology of the past. Maybe it's because I grew up with it, but it was a time when everything was marvelous and novel, and we didn't expect groundbreaking advances on the daily. I think it also gives me an appreciation for how far we've come in a relatively short time, as is demonstrated by this video. It's particularly cool to see early versions of tools we still use 27 years later and to hear John Knoll speak about the seminal program he created along with his brother, Thomas. Knoll's demonstrates shows off both the power of even the first version of the program and the cleverness it took to take full advantage of said power. Notice how he selects the water in the landscape shot using a manual channel subtraction, whereas these days, we might simply select a color range, then refine and feather our selection. It's clever, but it also gives me a huge appreciation for how relatively simple the tools have become in terms of their power. 

Log in or register to post comments

12 Comments

Ha ha, I remember the day my dad brought home a macintosh like you see in the background, he won it somewhere in a raffle, it came with photoshop but no scanner and definitely no digital camera so it wasn't that useful at the time. being able to type and print was way more exciting :).

Sergio Tello's picture

The first version I used was 3.

Spy Black's picture

V. 2.5.1 for me, but yeah, V 3.0 was the game changer. It was actually Adobe's response to another program that was the first with layers, who's name escape me now. They were threatening Abobe's dominance with Photoshop. They were charging something like $2000 for the program, Adobe came out with V. 3.0 for around $580 or so, and that was the end of that. Another asset of the other program that Adobe copied was 1024x768 work area tile windows so you could retouch much larger files that would normally choke the Quadras and PCs of the day. Although most people worked with V 3.0 on Macs and PCs, I actually learned V 3.0 on a Silicon Graphics machine. Adobe ported a version that worked in emulation mode on the SGI's, a fact they vehemently denied and swore it was native, which it wasn't.

John Nicholson's picture

It was probably "Live Picture" that you are referring to. By the makers of Kai's Photo Tools http://lensgarden.com/uncategorized/live-picture-software-that-was-way-a...

Spy Black's picture

That is probably it, although it wasn't Kai's at the time, I would say HSC. The software vendor, if I remember correctly had a sort of blue swirl in their logo. This was around 1992-93, during the Quadra era running OS 7, I believe.

I'd bet that version ran much more reliably than the bug ridden stuff Adobe puts out today. And to be fair to Adobe, bug ridden and poorly designed software is the norm today.

I remember having it in college on a Mac but again there were no digital pictures to work with so all you could do was splash colour and lines across the page and type text, you could rub bits out. At the time I couldn't see the purpose of it. I didn't think it would make it.

Christopher Nolan's picture

am I the only one impressed with how hot his wife is?

Spy Black's picture

Hopefully she's kept some of that hotness 29 years on, ay? ;-)

Ricky Perrone's picture

Man, that does not look fun