Adobe announced the 20th Anniversary of Photoshop recently. Although most of us may have only casually noticed it, this is a big moment for the printing industry. Photoshop was a major part of the digital revolution for us.
Sure by 1990 the Mac had been out for a few years and some smaller print shops and newspapers were adopting the new computer and the limited software that was available (MacPaint, MacWrite, MacDraw and eventually Aldus PageMaker, Word and then Quark). And I will admit I was one of the early Macgeeks in 1985 landing a job at a shopper newspaper as a graphic designer using a MacPlus.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s you could set type and make graphics on the new platform, but there wasn’t a real advantage over doing it the traditional way, with LinoType or Compugraphic machines. You still had to paste-it up and photograph it, or plot it electronically then strip it up and then Make a composite negative to make plates. Desktop publishing was considered more of a toy or passing fad by the larger printers and publishers. By 1993 you were starting to see printers adopt the Mac for typesetting, but photos were still being stripped in manually because the files sizes of the scans were large.
Photoshop introduced something that we hadn’t been able to do easily or economically. In the early 90’s you needed a mainframe computer, generally from Scitex, for digitally manipulating photos. It operated in a rather large climate-controlled room and the operators had hours of training on the machine and software. Not to mention that it cost over $1 million.
Photoshop and the Mac opened the door for everyone to get in the re-touch and image manipulation game. Although Photoshop could not do what the Scitex system did, by Photoshop version 2, it was getting closer. We as an industry now had access to a system that was still expensive, about $20,000, but it was a lot cheaper than the $1 million dollar mainframe.
Now, after 20 years, it would be hard to imaging what we do here at Printing Partners without Photoshop. As a designer I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t launch Photoshop and use it for something. From color correction, to image clean-up, creating artwork, doing web work, Photoshop has become an important part of my daily job and our industry. And although I have used Photoshop since 1995, it is such an incredible program I don’t feel like I have even begun to hit it’s full potential, who knows where this amazing program will take us in another 20 years.
So to Adobe Systems and more directly the original creators of Photoshop, Thomas and John Knoll, and the entire Photoshop Team, Happy Anniversary and thank you for creating this amazing program. I can’t wait to see what I can do with it next!
Author’s note: It should be noted that I am a partial to Adobe Systems, having worked as an Alpha and Beta Tester for PageMaker, Illustrator and other programs. So I apologize if this article seems a little skewed or biased.