back to article (Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Nothing proves the popularity of a star product more than its name being used as a verb. Rival companies hate it, but carpets get Hoovered, wrapping paper gets Sellotaped. And what do you do to a photo? A poorly Photoshopped picture can arouse horror or derision, while a half-decent one can become an internet phenomenon. Think …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Before Photoshop:

    The Adams Retouching Machine pat. 1947

    This machine vibrated the negative being worked on, to smooth out the strokes made by a brush or pencil.

  2. frank ly

    It's good, yes

    Photoshop Elements was bundled onto a Windows 7 laptop that I bought about four years ago. I think it would have cost about £50 if bought separately at the time. I remember that the photo catalogue and workflow tools seemed to be very simple to use and effective and would have been a good reason to have it. Before that, I used to use an old copy of Paint Shop Pro; before Corel bought it and ruined it.

    Now, I use GIMP because it's free and does everything I need it for, in my techie-hobbyist way.

    1. getHandle

      Re: It's good, yes

      +1 for GIMP!

      1. Havin_it

        Re: It's good, yes

        >+1 for GIMP!

        +0.97 over here. It's up there now on tools, UI (since finally listening and implementing single-window mode) and documentation, but to appeal to prepress folk it REALLY needs to get native CMYK support happening. I've tried the "separate" plugin and it's embarrassingly clunky; not to mention that its continued existence as a plugin signals that the devs put little priority on such a feature, and thus the prepress audience in general.

        Right now I'm unaware of any free tools that can match PS7's (and probably before, but that's where I got on and it still meets my needs) CMYK support, soft-proofing tools etc. If anyone can raise my awareness, I'd be delighted... ;)

    2. Darren Davis

      Paint Shop Pro

      I still use Paint Shop Pro 6 at home - which generally still manages to do what I need it to do - which is not a whole lot but still gets there. Fully agree with you that Corel subsequently ruined it.

      But the thing that cracks me up (and sort of annoys me at the same time) is that anytime I have to reinstall it on a new machine or VM, the installer blares out some rock guitar music - I guess that was the sexy thing to do with your installers in 1999???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paint Shop Pro

        Far better of the recent installers of PSP that install some "utilities" always running in background and you can't get easily rid of...

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Paint Shop Pro

        I still use Paint Shop Pro 7 (Evaluation copy), it says:

        "You are on day 16486 of your 30 day trial period"

        1. lorisarvendu

          Re: Paint Shop Pro

          "I still use Paint Shop Pro 7 (Evaluation copy),"

          Well I'm perfectly happy with v4.14!

        2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

          Re: Paint Shop Pro

          "You are on day 16486 of your 30 day trial period"

          Have you had PSP for 45 years' now? Impressive. Those punchcards must still be a real bummer though.

    3. AndrewInIreland

      Re: It's good, yes

      I'm still using Paint Shop Pro but I haven't updated it for years. And yes you are right, Corel ruined it.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Lots of Windows users are puzzled as to why they can get very high res tablets and phones, but not many laptops (though Toshiba and Lenovo make some).

    Whilst more modern versions of Windows are saner in the way they deal with UI scaling, Adobe isn't quite there yet.

    However, the following thread suggests that Adobe are actively working on this:

    My point is that photographers and artists with money are the people most likely to benefit from non-Apple laptops/monitors with very high resolutions. Until applications take advantage of high res monitors, people will have less reason to buy the hardware.

    [CAD benefits from very high res displays because of the appearance of single-pixel diagonal lines... for this reason (and that CAD workstations have had the GPUs to drive high res displays), Solidworks et al have had the option of scaling their toolbars for years]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yet Photoshop supports 10 bit color channels on compatible monitors and video cards. Something that in some workflows can be more important than more pixels.

      Anyway, HiDPI support is still a bit sparse among different Windows versions, and probably displays not yet so widespread, especially in the professional market, when there are many more important parameters, and not just the pixel count per inch.

      4K+ display are going to change this, and applications - not only Photoshop - will need to adapt.

  4. regadpellagru

    Pascal ? Really ?

    "... where you can peruse its 128,000 lines of virtually uncommented code: 75 per cent in Pascal, 15 per cent in 68000 assembler language, and the rest in er… various other stuff."

    So, someone actually built something outside university, in Pascal ? Really baffling news to me, and I worked in SW for 5 years during the 90s ...

    Different note: a very more accessible and free alternative to PS or Gimp is But, yes, you're nowhere approaching PS functions, but approaching Gimp's ...

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      "someone actually built something outside university, in Pascal"

      Obviously you never heard of Borland Delphi; here's a list of some applications built using it:

      Plus loads of internal developments for companies before Microsoft got their act together with VS and corporations got interested in open source tools like Eclipse.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pascal ? Really ?

        TurboPascal first, and later Delphi, added to Pascal what was needed to turn it into a professional and productive language and toolchain.

        BTW, Delphi was 20 last Saturday. But, unluckily, BorInCodeDero (Borland/Inprise/CodeGear/Embarcadero) management worked (and still works) actively against its own product crippling it the more they could, while ensuring it never got the features it really needed to keep it actual as the development landscape evolve and changed from Windows 3.1 to Windows 8.1 and Windows 2012R2. Lack of focus and of real strategy, bad positioning, and fashion chasing (Linux first, then .NET, then iOS and Android), didn't help either.

        Now most development has been "offshored" to Spain and Romania, and the resulsts are not good.

        But there are a some good Windows applications written in it, just most user won't be able to tell the difference from a C/C++ one.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      There's a fairly easy way to find out for yourself whether or not Pascal was used: look at the code yourself. I provided a link to it.

    3. Aqua Marina

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      MD Dynamics NAV is written in Pascal (Although they call it C/Side)

      I haven't met a NAV developer that thinks Pascal is a university language. Or one that is poor either.

    4. Truth4u

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      wow a whole 5 years.

    5. Richard Taylor 2

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      Never heard of the Apple Mac?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      Yes, really.

      The Mac was designed from day 1 with a Pascal based toolbox. Just check out any of the original "Inside Macintosh" publications - it's almost 100% Pascal based.

      It was simple, structured and elegant (as Pascal is - but I admit a bias there) but it also had some of the limitations inherent with pascal development.

      For the Mac history buffs out there, check out the original (interpreted) Mac Pascal, Lightspeed/ThiNK Pascal and the classic Turbo Pascal (yes, there was one for the Mac).

      1. John Gamble

        Re: Pascal ? Really ?

        "For the Mac history buffs out there, check out the original (interpreted) Mac Pascal, Lightspeed/ThiNK Pascal and the classic Turbo Pascal (yes, there was one for the Mac)."

        Yeah, Mac Pascal was ... adequate, but it was also the default compiler, so everyone used it.

        Lightspeed/Think Pascal had a terrific interface and a better resource syntax, so if you could afford it that was the one you got (and the Think C compiler as well). Turbo... well, it came in a distant second to Think, although I imagine people comfortable with the DOS/Windows version of Turbo were happy with it when they sat in front of a Mac for the first time.

    7. /dev/null

      Re: Pascal ? Really ?

      Yes, really: as TFA states, the original Photoshop was a MacApp app, and MacApp was based on Apple Object Pascal, which was basically the "native" language of the Mac back in the days when MacOS was just called "System"...

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first

    The Human Condition


    Another example of how human ingenuity (complex mathematical transformations etc.) wind up making a model's legs longer/shorter and/or adding/subtracting freckles.

    See also Internet = Porn + cats.

    Still, it's a lot better than making bombs etc.

  6. Joe Harrison

    There is always a mysterious third-party

    When I was doing web design in 1997 I had a choice - either get my boss to pay a fortune for Photoshop 6, or use JASC Paintshop Pro 3.0 free off the Computer Shopper cover CD. I got very good at Paintshop Pro and still use it, even now post-Corel.

    Intriguing to hear how the product name came about as a casual suggestion from the unknown someone who was not really involved. History is littered with such people who drift by and change the course of history, from George Washington's "mysterious visitor" to Coleridge's "person from Porlock."

    When I invent the time machine in 2023 I am definitely going back to 1988 and helpfully suggest the name "Photoshop" to them.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: There is always a mysterious third-party

      When I invent the time machine I'm going back to 1987 and trademarking the name Photoshop!

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: There is always a mysterious third-party

        When I invent the time machine I will go forward in time to get a don't unplug without authorisation socket for the power lead then go back in time and take a whatever they will be using to operate Linux Bellsnwhistles OS on in that future with me. And get that patented in Texas.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

    This was another system that introduced revolutionary image manipulation - albeit at a price:

    Note: I used to use for Quantel, but haven't for a number of years.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

      I never saw Photobox. I was aware of Paintbox in the late 1980s at the time because all the TV channels were using it for their pop programmes. If I remember, it was about as affordable as a Maserati.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

        The Dire Straits video, Money For Nothing was noted for being manipulated in Paintbox.

        1. ButlerInstitute

          Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox - actually I have - and Pascal

          I too worked for Quantel, from the mid 80s to the early 00s.

          I've never heard of PhotoBox .....

          Oh, and all Quantel's kit throughout that era was programmed in Pascal (with a little bit of 68000 assembler).

          Unfortunately Quantel's attempt to sue Adobe for patent infringement failed.

      2. Christian Berger

        Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

        "If I remember, it was about as affordable as a Maserati."

        To be honest, everything in television is "as affordable as a Maserati". A typical "decent" HD-camera used for expensive live programmes is about 100kUSD plus another 100k for the lens.

        Back then frame stores were hugely expensive. After all a frame store required three quarters of a whole megaword of memory (using 7-10 bit words). The BBC actually went through the trouble of building their own frame store out of shift register chips. It needed several amps of current for the clock signal (per board) and took several kilowatts of power. MTBF was around 100 hours.

        There was one noteworthy application for the Paintbox. It was used to generate the graphics for the "Computer Originated World", probably the coolest video device ever made.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

      It was very revolutionary. The BBC had two of the first in the country and only used them for doing weather graphics (yawn).

      The FX team on The Tripods managed to borrow them overnight to do the FX for that show, until the BBC canned it before making the 3rd and final book of the trilogy.

      I also remember the "Painting with light" series which showed famous artists using the Quantel to produce art. I remember my late grandfather mentioning it was going to be on TV as he knew I was into computers.

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

        It was used a lot in Star Cops too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

        The BBC had two of the first in the country

        That'd be two of the first Paintboxes produced as Quantel is a British company.

  8. jrd

    The best reason to use Photoshop is that everyone else uses it - if you want to do some image manipulation in Photoshop, no matter how obscure, you can always find a solution with a quick web search or two. Often with a how-to video. Photoshop is the ultimate "industrial quality" application.

  9. Mike Bell

    Need a good kicking

    Adobe alienated many loyal fans when they went to their rental model and removed the user's right to buy a perpetual license.

    They need a good kicking. I am hopeful that the likes of Affinity Photo will give them the stiff competition that they sorely deserve.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Need a good kicking

      "Adobe alienated many loyal fans when they went to their rental model and removed the user's right to buy a perpetual license."

      When did they do that? As far as I knew they only did that for volume licensing.

      1. Mike Bell

        Re: Need a good kicking


        Have you been living on a desert island? Adobe made usage of Photoshop a subscription-only model ages ago. You can't buy Photoshop outright from Adobe any more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          1. Mike Bell

            Re: Need a good kicking

            Hey, well done. They must have relented and allowed access to three-year-old versions. For a while it was extremely difficult to find that on their website.

            Nice of them, isn't it, to let you buy old unsupported stuff. If you bought it a few weeks ago, don't expect to see any patches anytime soon.

            As for wanting the latest and greatest, you are stuffed, mate. It's rental all the way for you.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Need a good kicking

              Adobe patch their Photoshop products? Ha, we'll have flying pigs next. Oh wait, you mean the "buy the next version and hope it's been fixed in that" style of patching...

  10. DaLo

    " could be said that the once-universal page layout package of the 1980s and 1990s, QuarkXPress, wasn’t killed off by its direct competitor InDesign, but by Photoshop."

    I don't think this is entirely accurate. QuarkXPress was ridiculously dominant at the time and the core printroom features were quite solid but as graphic design was now in the mainstream the usability of it was poor. Due to the verticals that Quark had penetrated from designer to printroom it needed much more than just a cheaper option to unseat it. Quark really felt like they had become lazy and complacent and even features like multiple undos were missing - in such a tinkering type of package like a desktop publisher you found you couldn't roll back unless you saved very regularly.

    InDesign was a breath of fresh air and looked at it from the opposite end. It made things useful and simple for the user even though it wasn't quite as strong on the back end output. Once designers had used it for a little while they struggled to go back to Quark. Printers caught on and readily installed it and suddenly the vertical market for Quark was broken. They didn't react quick enough to the competition and didn't see it coming.

    Quark killed off QuarkXpress themselves by becoming blazé and belligerent. Designers are difficult bunch to pull away from their favourite tools and never seemed to manage change well so to suggest their staple program "QuarkXpress" was not the best tool for the job and Indesign was better was not an easy task, especially with all the legacy artwork that would need changing and updating.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Yes, most people say this, and Quark's attitude, not least as represented by its UK distributor, was very much as you describe in the 1990s. But InDesign did not kill Quark in the 1990s. Nor was InDesign 1.0 a breath of fresh air: it was a slow, syrupy arse of a program that was little better than a proof-of-concept.

      InDesign only started getting into its stride with version 2.0, which only came out at the end of 2001. By this time, the management at Quark had changed and the company attitude towards users was completely switched.

      In the year that Adobe launched Creative Suite (2003), QuarkXPress owners were being given printed manuals, quick-tip booklets (hell, I wrote some of these), video tutorials on CD, unlimited 24-hour hotline telephone support and free invitations to attend Quark conferences. The program itself had improved immensely since those dark days of the 1990s. You could create web sites with it, edit image files directly on the page, create multi-layout projects, roundtrip XML, and it was faster than InDesign, even if you were running an old non-Mac OS X version in an old Mac OS 9 environment. Even afterwards, Quark was updated to run natively on Intel Macs for nearly a year before InDesign got around to it.

      The only absolutely essential feature that QuarkXPress lacked through the 2000s was a reliable PDF exporter. Quark tried to license PDF tech from Adobe, but guess what they said? Years later, once Adobe had utterly shafted Quark's attempts to keep up with an increasingly PDF-reliant prepress industry, it added insult to injury by releasing the code as Open Source.

      When it came down to it, every Quark user would need a copy of Photoshop for their work. If they knew they could get Photoshop AND the rest of Creative Suite for the same price as a copy of QuarkXPress, they just bought CS, forgot about Quark and learnt InDesign instead.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Quark also shafted every user, repeatedly, through their despicable file version handling practices. Want to import a file from a version that's more than one release old? Forget it. How about save a file in a new version in an earlier format to allow somebody else to use it? Forget it. Gits. This and their dastardly unreliable configuration settings that somehow reset themselves just before a deadline or files that were saved to be unreadable... the pain just goes on.

      2. DaLo

        You seem to be misrembering Alistair. I was there supporting users of and using Quark in the early 2000s.

        Quark 5 still did not have multiple undos, Quark was not releasing native OSX version. The CEO even had a rant about how dead the Mac Platform was.

        The simple features that were available to users in Indesign that you had to jump through hoops for in Quark were numerous. As for PDF, I don't recall Adobe playing underhand with PDF and also I can't see it being much of an issue for the wider Graphics community. All printhouses had Quark anyway and it was very easy to create the separations required from it. No printhouse at the time required a PDF rather than a postscript or Quark file.

        This article is very much how I remember it at the time especially the quote: "Quark repeatedly failed to make OS X-native versions of XPress—spanning versions 4.1, 5, and 6—but the company still asked for plenty of loot for the upgrades. With user frustration high with 2002’s Quark 5, CEO Fred Ebrahimi salted the wounds by taunting users to switch to Windows if they didn’t like it, saying, “The Macintosh platform is shrinking." Ebrahimi suggested that anyone dissatisfied with Quark's Mac commitment should "switch to something else.""

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          True about QuarkXPress 5, but you have slipped on the dates. When Creative Suite was launched, QuarkXPress was at version 6, running on Mac OS X. You may also remember that Adobe also began following a Windows-first strategy in the early 2000s, which left Acrobat for Mac nearly a year behind its Windows version.

          1. KroSha

            I'm hazy on the dates, but I remember when the publisher I was supporting shifted away from Xpress. It was entirely Quark's fault too. All the Macs in the Studio had been transitioned to OSX 10.2 and Quark was the last package that was still running in OS9 Classic mode. The cost of upgrading everyone's Xpress was more than purchasing CS, and for some it was as much as 50% higher as they had the Passport edition.

  11. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Speaking of the Computer History Museum

    They have a Photoshop lecture tonight:

    and a whole weekend at the end of the month

    if you're anywhere near Mountain View.

  12. Michael Strorm Silver badge

    Worth remembering that photo-quality "Photoshopping" was around before Photoshop was even released. (*) Queen's album "The Miracle" came out in May 1989 and was apparently done on a Quantel Paintbox:- (**)

    Did the actual release versions of Photoshop run on anything less than the (then-expensive) true colour Macintosh II? I can't even begin to imagine using Photoshop on a monochrome Mac with two-level dithering, even if it rendered the output file in full greyscale or colour.

    (*) I don't know at what point Quantel's hardware became capable of true colour print-resolution photo manipulation (as opposed to TV resolution), but it was obviously there by this point. If the album hit the shops in May, the hardware used for that picture must certainly have been around for longer than the two months since Photoshop 0.87 (Barneyscan XP)- the first commercial version- came out. And I'd be surprised if Photoshop 0.87 was capable of what we'd consider "Photoshopping" nowadays, whereas (ironically) Quantel's hardware was.

    (**) This sort of photo manipulation is ten-a-penny nowadays, but it was technically impressive at the time.

    1. ButlerInstitute

      Quantel PrintBox

      By the late 80s there were a few instances around of the Quantel PrintBox. Ie a variant of PaintBox capable of working at print resolutions.

      Presumably that's what was used for this.

  13. Monti

    Utterly Moronic

    Remember when Adobe tried to tell all of us to not say “Photoshopped”, but rather to say “The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software”.


    Always capitalize and use trademarks in their correct form.

    Correct: The image was enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.

    Incorrect: The image was photoshopped.

    Incorrect: The image was Photoshopped.

    Incorrect: The image was Adobe® Photoshopped.

    Hey Adobe? How about "no"?

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Utterly Moronic

      I suspect that was due to their lawyers trying to defend their trademark from becoming genericised:-

      I don't honestly think they expected people to adhere to those guidelines, but pointing it out like that (I'm guessing- IANAL) may have benefited them legally, since they could claim that they'd constantly made clear Photoshop was a trademark and they'd discouraged its use in a colloquial sense...?

      Or maybe by throwing ten tons of mud at the wall like that, they knew enough of it would stick at least (i.e. people- or at least those in the media- would remember it was a trademark and not use it as a generic term).

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Utterly Moronic

      I'm watching a video press conference with Thomas Knoll. He's just said that, even though Adobe's legal team hate the idea, it gives him a thrill every time he's watching a film or TV and someone says "Photoshop" as a verb.

  14. Truffle

    Adobe, masters of the trend

    What impresses me most about Adobe is they are never behind for long.

    A most recent example is Adobe Muse. It was clear that websites were getting more and more graphics-centric. Graphics artists, illustrators etc all want to create compelling websites/content but dont have the HTML skills to do it.

    Adobe recognise this and develop Muse. A fantastic package for people like me who want a gorgeous website but don't know how to program it.

    Some people might say that Adobe Flash was their first attempt at this sort of package but it was never designed to be used to create entire websites with. Graphic designers just saw what could be done with it and went mental.

    The number of Flash websites that popped up almost overnight, and then disappeared just as quickly when they found their content was invisible to search engines. (and the rise of the search engine as the internet engine of choice).

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Adobe, masters of the trend

      For a second I was going to say that Flash had been popular for a *long* time until its recent decline (*). Then I realised you really did mean sites that did literally *everything* within a single Flash blob- title, menus, content. All Flash, no HTML I'd almost forgotten those...

      IIRC that peaked circa the early-to-mid noughties(?) I remember applying for jobs at that time and being annoyed at how companies- including banks- were creating self-indulgent style-over-substance websites that were obviously meant to impress, but a PITA to use in practice, e.g. non-browser-standard user interfaces, breaking the browser's own back button, etc.

      Flash remained for more appropriate uses, but- as you say- that specific trend thankfully died off.

      (*) Probably from the late 90s until the past few years when the rise of the Flashless iPhone and HTML5 put the writing on the wall. But you can't deny it had a long run- in essence it became what Java Applets were supposed to have done (but failed to do because they were too bloated for late 90s computers)- embedded rich content *within* websites.

    2. Handy Plough

      Re: Adobe, masters of the trend

      Muse is terrible! No better than Dreamweaver or FrontPage. Adobe Edge Reflow and Macaw are far more compelling.

  15. hammarbtyp

    The Photoshop CC Good value myth

    I get a little tired of this myth that paying a creative commons licence is somehow good value.

    It really depends on what you do. If you work for large company doing advertising images or your buisness involves photographsetc then it might well be. But for the hobbiest photographer it makes far less sense.

    For people who already have CS6 it makes no sense, since there despite Adobe's publicity there has been virtually no must have features since the day they turned off the purchase outright option. Apart from UI tweaking it could be argued that there has been no major feature added since CS3

    If you do not have a copy, it seems great that you get the latest copy of PS and lightroom for a monthly outgoing. But remember it means that if you have a life event where £110 a year could be useful, that means you lose not only access to software now, but also the ability to access your old files in PS format.

    Also do you really need PS CC? If you are a photographer, lightroom will do 95% of the job which you can buy outright. (The reason lightroom has not gone totally CC is that there are plenty of competition out there for Raw processing such as Dx0)

    There are only two good reasons for getting PS CC. One is that there is training for virtually every manipulation task out there, but virtually all use PS. If you use GIMP somehow you have to translate the instructions to an alien interface.

    Secondly is plug-ins. Plug-ins like the Google Nik collection are in some ways more essential than PS itself. Then again they can also be used in LR.

    Personally I use PS CS2 and can do most of the things I want and 99% of the tasks can be achieved without paying blood money to Adobe each month. Hopefully I will get to the point where I can understand photo processing basics enough to ditch PS totally and move to something like Gimp

  16. Mark #255

    High quality compression?

    I could never get Photoshop (v4) to compress JPEGs well. I believe my compressor of choice at that time was LViewPro, but PSP did better, too.

  17. Slartybardfast

    Before Photoshop - Crosfield Electronics

    Crosfield used to supply many of the top repro houses and newspapers with drum scanners page make-up systems. We're talking big money here £150000+ for a page make-up system. However they were great in their time. The earlier systems worked using DEC 11/34's, 23's (for scanner terminals) and later 11/73's for the page make-up systems. Later on they designed their own 68000 based systems.

    The page make-up system couldn't touch the Photoshop of today but they could do things like USM and colour changing and many other features that for the time seemed almost like magic. A good operator (who were paid mega money by those days standards) could be amazing things given the limitations of the system. The systems needed a proper "system room" for cooling etc, although not all users had them. I can remember looking fondly (until the heads crashed) on a room full of CDC9766 340MB disc drives. I seem to remember 17 heads and a whole 340MB (unformatted) of data.

    Kids today etc, etc, etc

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      CDC 9766 disk drives

      I remember using those but they weren't quite as large. My possibly faulty memory says just over 200MB usable space once formatted and with a file system in place

      CDC 9760 (SMD)

      "At the 1975 NCC, CDC announced 150 and 300 MByte Storage Module Drives The increase in capacity was achieved by increasing the number of disks (and heads) without any technology change. The 300 MByte 9766 SMD drive was for many years the largest capacity removable disk drive on the market."

      They had a remarkably long run compared with today. I last saw 9766 drives installed as brand new as late as 1985.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, Paint.NET and Photoshop

    At home, I use GIMP and occasionally Paint.NET on my windows machine. I did have PSP v8 but lost the disc - used that for every photo edit.

    At work though, I use Adobe Fireworks and Photoshop (on an old CS3 installation) - does the job perfectly and has a definite speed increase as opposed to the products mentioned above. can find that there is a function or utility that does what I need to do and layer work is so simple in Adobe.

    The other products (and I do like GIMP) still have a fair bit of catching up.

    I just wish it wasn't so stupidly expensive. I think work paid a few thousand for our CS3 licences (but it was the full CS3 Web Premium suite). I also wish they hadn't gone all cloud based.

  19. Kubla Cant

    How to freeze animations?

    Irrelevant question prompted by the animated image at the top of the article (repeated inline and in a sidebar). Does anyone know a way to turn off image animation? I'm blocking the image with ABP, but it would be better to be able to say "stop twitching".

    Steve Caplin's Stella Artois ad is amusing for the first 30 seconds. Thereafter, it's annoying. The sidebar is especially annoying because it's in the periphery od my field of vision while I'm trying to read. Peripheral vision is sensitised to movement, so every time the damn thing changes my visual cortex raises a little alarm.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: How to freeze animations?

      Oh come on, you're a Reg reader, right? It depends on which web browser you're using. if it's IE, hit Escape. If it's anything else, install a GIF blocker extension.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: How to freeze animations?

        Fair point, Mr Dabbs.

        I've installed "Toggle animated GIFs" in Firefox. "Superstop" looks like it stops rather more than I want.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How to freeze animations?

        Yes Mr Dabbs, I am a Reg reader, I'd really rather not keep having to jump through hoops to make the site usable.

        I can easily remove all pictures and take various other blocking methods.

        But here's an idea, listen to your fucking readers and use images sensibly so we don't have to fuck around doing that shit.

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: How to freeze animations?

          I listen to readers. That's two of you so far.

    2. Justicesays

      Re: How to freeze animations?

      I've been using the "superstop" mozilla addon ever since the Mozilla devs in their infinite "wisdom" decided that they liked making you watch animations and disabled the ESC key.

      Not sure what is available for other browsers.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rostrum cameras

    Back in the olden days of the 70s we were using rostrum cameras to create many of the effects that now need just a couple of clicks in programmes such as Photoshop.

    Forox and Marron Carrel were pretty popular in the better production houses at the time and were in common usage until the late 90s.

    Operators were skilled craftsmen who spent long hours hunched over the camera's compound table in a window-less room. One of the best I worked with was a bloke called Chris Andrews. His nickname in the industry was "Julie". It wasn't until many years later that I found out he was the younger brother of actress Julie Andrews.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "After a hard day at the office, image editors would go home with their clothes splattered with ink or dotted with pin-hole burns."

    Image editors still go home with pin-hole burns. :)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Image editors still go home with pin-hole burns

      My cousin used to be an art editor at the Financial Times during the 1980s. Every day, he said, he would arrive home, only to find that he had a huge ink smear somewhere across his face.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, I was thinking of pin-hole burns more in the Pink Floyd sense:

        ♫...the inevitable pin-hole burrrrrrns; all down the front of my favourite satiiin shirt.....♫

        I haven't been smeared with ink since I stopped refilling ink cartridges. That stuff is worse than glitter. As is the whole home/business printer industry now I come to think about it.

  22. whitespacephil
    Thumb Up

    not tl;dr

    Just wanted to say thank you to Mr Dabbs for an entertaining read.

  23. Peter Simpson 1

    Missing the famous Iranian missile launch image

    I was sad to see that this premier example of the military application of Photoshop had not been included.

    Maybe next time.

    // Iranian copies are probably bootleg anyway

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've always liked Photoshop. Everytime I've tried the gimp I've really struggled with the UI. It never seemed like something I could just open and start playing with.

    Last year I played around with Krita by the KDE people. Excellent application.... it feels much more like photoshop. I just hope they've sorted the manual a bit since then. Trying to do some more advanced techniques did become difficult simply because there was no documentation/youtube videos!

  25. Stuart Moore

    Not a patch on the rest

    In the "More from The Register" section underneath the article, there are 6 articles linked.

    See if you can spot a common theme in the titles...

    * Adobe finds, patches ANOTHER exploited Flash 0day

    * Still using Adobe Flash? Oh well, get updating: 15 hijack flaws patched

    * Adobe and software pals haul Forever 21 to court over piracy allegations

    * Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out

    * Another day, yet another emergency Adobe Flash patch. Because that's how we live now

    * Adobe swallows Aviary, hopes to stuff Creative Cloud into mobes

    (Well, 4 of them anyway)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Not a patch on the rest

      Isn't The Reg fantastic? Not a single reprinted Press release among them!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Register - What happened to "Printable View" for articles?

    I *detest* having to click each page of an article to read parts of it, while wasting my precious bandwidth loading the images on each page. "Printable View" solved this by presenting the article in a bandwidth-friendly page, without the annoying graphics of other articles. Most importantly it was all on one page - so no need to click on 1, 2, 3, 4, ... at the bottom. What happened to the "Printable View" for stories that used to be there? When and why was it removed? How can The Register be so cruel to us readers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Register - What happened to "Printable View" for articles?


      I would like this feature too

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The Register - What happened to "Printable View" for articles?

      Reader View in Safari should do the trick. Please don't swear at me for offering a suggestion.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The Register - What happened to "Printable View" for articles?

      The PFYs who did the web makeover thought it would be far easier to manually insert "Print/" after the site in the URL than it would be to click on a button, e.g...

      I'd like to meet that genius and shake him by the neck.

  27. Morten Bjoernsvik

    I'm perfectly happy with the PS CS2 free version

    You can still get PS CS2 free, Earlier you could download it directly, But now you need to register. but it is still a great program. It is way better than Photoshop elements.

  28. Youngone Silver badge


    I was one of those people hand retouching photos for a living.

    I was a Photolithographer, and oh how we laughed at those bumblers with their tiny little computers, taking hours to do what we could do in minutes.

    Of course that changed fairly quickly, and we all wound up in front of a monitor.

    Then the boss realized that if he advertised for "Graphic Designers" he could get kids straight out of school desperate to be hipsters at minimum wage, and that was that as far as a career went.

    The kids were usually clueless, but as the job had degenerated into putting pictures into boxes, not many clues were needed by that stage.

    Good times.

  29. Mage

    Pity it was always too/so expensive

    And now you can't buy it at all,

    Also you can't buy a sensible version of Windows to run it on any more.

    Paint Shop Pro 7 seems to be best alternative (later versions are horrible, but PS7 I think doesn't work on current windows.) Even seems to work with some Photoshop plugins,

    Does PSP7 or the last buyable Photoshop (some copies still in distribution?) work on WINE.

    Gimp isn't there yet as an alternative unless you are a masochist, even then, I suspect it's not close to PSP7 (never mind Photoshop)

    On Wn3.11 I used Photostyler as the image rotate tool was really good.

    If the current version of Photoshop cost $50 and had Linux, OSX, Android and Windows (XP to 10) versions that would be interesting.

  30. Oninoshiko

    elReg hits new lows!

    First the annoying images randomly being in articles.

    Then the annoying site design where there are muliple images on the front-page, and in the drop down menu.

    now we are dredging up awful animated GIFs!

    Every time I think things can't get worse, you guys top yourself!

  31. Identity

    Find Edges is NOT useless

    Here's a trick for those who like and/or use this kind of thing:

    •Duplicate a layer (be it a flat background or otherwise) and run Find Edges on the duplicate.

    •Select All and copy

    •Create a new channel and paste

    •Delete the duplicate layer

    •Select the new channel from the Select menu

    •Go back to the original image layer with the new channel (alpha) selected

    •Run Gaussian Blur on the selection

    I call this Gaussian Sharpen and have created an action to do this

    PS: It's also good for some artistic purposes, but I leave that to you...

    1. DesktopGuy

      Re: Find Edges is NOT useless

      Nice of you to give it a name.

      The process has been around before photoshop existed - It's called unsharp masking!

      It's a photographic technique to increase edge contrast - name comes from using a negative of an image that is out of focus and using that as a mask to expose through.

      Kids these days...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Find Edges is NOT useless

        You can actually use it to create a mask to control how a sharpen filter - including the unshsarp mask, is applied:

        The idea is to exclude some areas of the image from the sharpening process, so you can enhance details in some, while others where probably only noise would be "sharpened", are excluded.

      2. Identity

        Re: Find Edges is NOT useless

        Unsharp Masking produces a result that is different, often resulting in unwanted color or highlight variations, in my experience.

        PS: I've been a graphic designer since before computers and started using Photoshop with v. 1.07

  32. DesktopGuy

    nice trip down memory lane - my memories are the flip side - working in repro

    Excellent article.

    I got an apprenticeship in Graphic Reproduction in 1989 - just as the industry started to turn.

    We did the scanning on hideously expensive drum scanners and I was a gallery camera operator and 4 colour planner.

    Actually worked at TAFE with one of the guys who created Barney scan - David Alexander.

    The only application that has really survived and flourished from that era is Photoshop.

    InDesign replaced Quark, Illustrator replaced Freehand (the better program), Suitcase replaced ATM, the list goes on.

  33. Obie

    I find myself using rather than opening Photoshop these days. It works well enough for 90% of my needs which are mostly adding text to graphics and creating infographics and cropping and resizing. For photo retouching I use Lightroom.

  34. Terryih


    “touching on a quarter-century of Adobe “. Although with its flagship product “Photoshop” Adobe has served the software need of many. In contrast the main activity of Abode has been in take-over of competitors to eliminate competition, Micromedia being a good example who many miss.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Micromedia being a good example

      Therein lies a tale, Terry, best discussed over a pint. Adobe + Macromedia was more of a merger than a takeover and many Macromedia bosses took over senior positions in the merged company. Adobe became a less friendly company afterwards.

      1. Ian 55

        There are no mergers, only takeovers.

        As true in graphics companies as in the City.

  35. DubiousMind

    Subscription model is not suited to everyone

    After having used Deluxe Paint on an Amiga and then getting a PC, I discovered the wonders of Photoshop and have used it ever since; now, mostly for photography.

    I worked in the video game sector for 10 years and many of the artists used Photoshop as they had "acquired" it when they were at school and taught themselves how to use it. Of-course the companies they went on to work for would spend the huge amounts of money required for all their employees to have Photoshop.

    If Adobe insist on only having a subscription model, I expect things to change in the longer term. Kids of today will find a competitor's product which does what they need and will use that instead. When they grow up, they may no longer have Photoshop skills required in the corporate world and either companies will have to pay for training, or switch to a cheaper product. I know which I'd prefer!

    Take, for example Pixelmator for OS X, it's just £22 to own, from the App Store, getting rave reviews and some professionals are starting to use it too. I think Adobe should watch their backs!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The bit I never understood

    Is how Adobe Photoshop, which in my experience is excellent and doesn't crash, is made by the same company that make Adobe Acrobat, which is shit and does.

  37. Bruce Ordway

    Sure, other packages

    ".. popular with artists exist, from Corel Painter .."

    I still remember seeing my first demo of FD Painter on PBS.

    Mark Zimmer became my hero instantly.

    At the time, Photoshop had noting to match the "natural media"... beautiful.

  38. Rik Myslewski

    Barneyscan XP

    Great article, and a highly enjoyable stroll down memory lane.

    On small addition: when Photoshop 0.87 was bundled with Barney's scanner way back when, it was dubbed "Barneyscan XP". I'll never forget how far and how fast my jaw dropped when I first launched it and began to manipulate my first image.

    After all these years, it's still one of the vanishingly few apps (don't get jealous, Excel) that I use on a daily basis.

  39. Chezstar

    Wasn't InDesign a little late on the scene?

    I remember our family local newspaper business used to use PageMaker back in the day, when most other companies were using Quark XPress. I think at the time for us down under in Aus, PageMaker was a lot cheaper (Heh, who'da thunk Adobe stuff could be considered cheaper) than the Quark offering, and there seemed to be more availability of the PageMaker stuff locally.

    InDesign was a fair step up, but in some respects a step back, PageMaker from memory just seemed to be a little bit easier going on regular users, and it was a bit of a learning curve going up to InDesign as a replacement.

  40. Zot

    It's a shame...

    ... A shame that GIMP has such a terrible name. People say they've photoshopped stuff even if they use GIMP. It took me a while getting used to the floating layer thing, but I can do all the stuff I did before with photoshop. Of course, I'm not a so called power-user. But a tool is a tool, and it all depends on what you're willing to learn.

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