Photoshop Turns 10

Few products are as important to the Mac as Adobe Systems Inc.'s Photoshop. It helped drive the desktop publishing revolution, and it's been a valuable tool in the emergence of Web design. As Photoshop 6.0 hits the streets -- the US$609 package should be available when you read this -- it's time to look at how Photoshop has evolved in the decade since its debut, and what the program has meant to Mac users.

There is no greater glory than becoming a verb. Font maven Kathleen Tinkel bestowed that honor on me after I gave her the world's best garlic press: she later told me she no longer presses garlic, she "Blatnerizes" it.

It happens with products, too. People xerox important papers, even on Canon copiers, and later Fed Ex them, even if they use Airborne or another overnight delivery service. Only one application in the world of publishing has enough distinction to earn its own verb, and it's worth every accolade: Adobe Photoshop.

As far as I'm concerned, every picture you scan needs to be Photo-shopped. Images headed toward the Web need Photoshopping. People Photoshop files in design firms, video-production houses, animation studios, and ad agencies all over the world. Physicians and scientists Photoshop their X rays, MRIs, astronomical data, and stuff I've never even heard of. Uncle Vernon didn't make Thanksgiving last year? You know what to do: just Photoshop him into the snapshot later.

Adobe Photoshop is easily the most life-changing program in publishing history. It is the cornerstone of print and Web publishing -- its power matched only by its elegance -- and plug-ins and page-layout programs dance around it.

Today, fine artists add finishing touches by Photoshopping their artwork, and pornographers would have nothing but reality to offer if they didn't Photoshop every one of their images. Photoshop means that a schmo like me can create brilliant graphics for an astonishing variety of media. And if I don't like what I see, I can Photoshop it some more.

But what truly amazes me is that while I write what sounds like an oversweetened eulogy for a poor, dead product, Adobe is releasing a new version -- Photoshop 6.0 -- that'll let me Photoshop my pictures even better than before.

God bless the United States of Photoshop.

Cropped Out

Photoshop isn't the only image-editing software for the Mac -- "Darn right," says Fireworks maker Macromedia Inc. -- but it certainly ranks as the most enduring. Rival products have come and gone over the past ten years, and Photoshop is still standing tall. Here's a list of some of the competing image-editing applications that Photoshop has left in its wake.

-- Color Studio

-- Digital Darkroom

-- PixelPaint

-- PhotoPaint

-- ColorMacCheese

-- Color-It Pro

-- xRes

-- Live Picture

-- Quark XPosure

Photoshop Through the Years: A Developing StoryBy Philip MichaelsThink back to February 1990. A fellow named George Bush was in the White House. An all-boy band named New Kids on the Block was tearing up the pop charts. Nobody could find Kuwait on a map. And Photoshop 1.0 had just arrived.

Now flash ahead ten years to fall 2000. Another fellow named George Bush is trying to get into the White House. An all-boy band named ÔN Sync is tearing up the pop charts. Nobody can find Kuwait on a map. Still.

At least some things change -- for example, Photoshop. Version 6.0 adds vector tools, expands Web-design capabilities, and incorporates many changes aimed at making the program easier to use.

To show you how Photoshop has evolved over the years, we've listed major additions to each upgrade, as well as what Macworld had to say about the software at the time. (Back in the days of Photoshop 1.0 and 2.0, we didn't even give ratings -- another thing that's changed.)Photoshop 1.0Shipped February 1990Features:Full palette of tools for creating images from scratch, as well as for editing, altering, and enhancing existing artwork.

What We Said Then:

"Photoshop is easy to use. Considering the vast number of features and tools involved, Adobe has done a good job of keeping things organized and simple."

No Rating

Photoshop 2.0

Shipped June 1991

Features:New and enhanced features for black-and-white image editing, prepress color-separation work, and importing rasterized Illustrator-compatible files.

What We Said Then:

"With version 2.0, Photoshop has grown up to become a graphics standard, with a whole host of third-party developers offering dedicated support."

No Rating

Photoshop 2.5

Announced November 1992

Features:Dodge and Burn tools, masking feature, support for Kodak Photo CD, JPEG, PCX, and BMP files.

What We Said Then:

"Version 2.5 builds on its predecessor's wide range of capabilities; it also ignores some minor weaknesses that have begun to peek through the chinks in the great program's armor."

Rating:four stars

Photoshop 3.0

Announced June 1994

Features:Introduction of layers, new color-correction tools, new Commands palette, new drag-and-drop feature.

What We Said Then: "Photoshop 3.0 both broadens its range of capabilities and simplifies the work environment in ways that will actually change how you work."

Rating:four stars

Photoshop 4.0

Shipped November 1996

Features:Addition of Actions and Adjustments layers, Digimarc technology for "watermarking" images with copyright information.

What We Said Then:

"Version 4 is ultimately more logical and more streamlined than its predecessor, which is saying quite a bit. But it comes at a cost."

Rating:four stars

Photoshop 5.0

Announced April 1998

Features:Introduction of undo capabilities, History palette, and Vertical Text and Magnetic Lasso tools.

What We Said Then:

"Photoshop has long been the best image editor for the Macintosh, and version 5.0 is the best upgrade to Photoshop by a mile."


Photoshop 5.5

Announced June 1999

Features:Many Web tools, including Web-safe color palette; integration of ImageReady 2.0.

What We Said Then:

"Photoshop 5.5's extraction tools and minor enhancements add up to a worthwhile package, but they fall short of justifying the price of admission. What gives the update an edge is its Web capabilities."


Photoshop 6.0

Announced September 2000

Features:Integrated vector drawing tools, new tool bar, expanded Web tool kit, tighter integration with other Adobe programs, enhanced layer management.

What We Say:

You'll have to wait.

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