Adobe releases free downloadable and legal source code for Photoshop 1.0.1, the first version of the program, which came out in 1990.
14 February was a special day not only for lovebirds everywhere, but also for those in love with photography and photo manipulations. Nostalgic photo editors rejoice, as they can now add a vintage element to their processing collection: the 1.0.1 version of Adobe Photoshop, released 20 years ago.
The beginning of Photoshop
The source code was released by the Computer History Museum, in cooperation with Adobe.
This is what the Museum had to say about the news: “With the permission of Adobe Systems Inc., the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use, the source code to the 1990 version 1.0.1 of Photoshop. All the code is here with the exception of the MacApp applications library that was licensed from Apple. There are 179 files in the zipped folder, comprising about 128,000 lines of mostly uncommented but well-structured code. By line count, about 75% of the code is in Pascal, about 15% is in 68000 assembler language, and the rest is data of various sorts.”
The program, which was primarily designed as a tool for editing images that were digitized by a scanner, was written in the 1980’s by Thomas Knoll, who was a PhD student at the University of Michigan at the time. Along with his brother, John Knoll, he initially created an editing software called “Display” for personal use. It was renamed “Photoshop” when Adobe signed to distribute it in 1989.
Up until the second version, Knoll was the only engineer of the software that would later become one of the most used creative tools in the world.
Back to the primitive
The first Adobe Photoshop is very modest, compared to the newer versions of the program, and it lacks many of the functions of today’s Photoshop. First of all, it has no layer support, a feature which was introduced in 1993, with the 3.0 version. It only has basic selection tools, filters and adjustments, and the graphics make it strangely similar to paint. What an abomination for me to say such things, given that the 1990 Photoshop is probably more powerful than today’s Microsoft Paint.