Photoshop History

Photoshop History

Photoshop history began in 1987 when Thomas and John Knoll brothers decided to create a program that would display grayscale images on a monochrome display that later became the digital art standard. Read interesting fact about Photoshop inventors, the first versions, and compare with today’s Photoshop CC.

Photoshop History and Knoll Brothers

In 1987, one Michigan PhD student noticed that the Mac Plus he just bought (only the third Macintosh model to come out) had a primitive 1-bit b&w display that couldn’t reproduce grayscale pictures.

The student’s name was Thomas Knoll. He tried to code a software for resolving that issue, starting the history of Photoshop.

Knoll Brothers photo

He also had a brother John who was working on the first film of the Star Wars, being responsible for some special effects.

He praised Thomas’s idea and offered to turn it into a proper computer program to edit images. So, enquiring when was Photoshop invented, you will be referred to Display – the name of Knoll’s creation. That was soon renamed into Image-Pro.

The designed software could print rack cards. It started to be sold in 1988, being already full of advanced image display features. The name was also changed then into the well-known Photoshop.

In September 1988, the Adobe Photoshop history began when Adobe and Knolls stroke a mutually beneficial bargain. Adobe received exclusive rights while the creators resumed further programming. In 1990 the first Photoshop version was released.

Photoshop’s Early Versions

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The whole Photoshop history can be divided into two parts: earlier versions and the modern ones. Let us start from the beginning.

Photoshop 1.0

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February 1, 1990 is the date of Photoshop’s first release. It was already capable of performing color correction and image retouching. The software was meant for use by grand platforms like SciTex and standard photo editing would have cost $300.

New Features:

  • Balance, hue, saturation correction, Image Output Optimization
  • Curves, Levels, Clone Photoshop tools

Photoshop 2.0

go further back in photoshop history

The next step in history Photoshop took on June 1, 1990, when the second version came out with improvements. The software then received instruments like Paths, CMYK color, a much sought-after Pen Tool. The latter is known to be a contribution of Mark Hamburg, a recently hired engineer.

New Features:

  • The Pen Tool
  • CMYK color palette
  • Masks

Photoshop 2.5

history of photoshop

If you wonder when was Photoshop released for Windows, it happened in November of the same year. This version received an enhancement in the form of palettes.

New Features:

  • Palettes

Photoshop 3.0

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Now, almost everyone knows what is a layer in Photoshop, but it wasn’t until 1994 that Tom Knoll implemented this ingenious idea in the 3.0 release. Designers immediately loved this useful feature as it allowed them to create more complex designs.

New Features:

  • Layers, Tabbed palettes

Photoshop 4.0

introduction to photoshop

The following 4.0 build came out a couple of years later and brought major improvements to layers and macros. It allowed photographers and designers to add watermarks to their images quickly.

New Features:

  • Included adjustment layers, macros
  • Updated interface

Photoshop 5.0

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This version came out on May 1, 1998, and introduced two important features: the Photoshop history log and the capability of text editing. Another great feature was the magnetic Lasso selection tool which greatly simplified image editing. Additionally, the following year the 5.5 build was released and it introduced the Save for Web option (making it possible to export PNGs)

New Features:

  • First-time multiple undo in Photoshop
  • Color management, Magnetic Lasso

Photoshop 6.0

features of adobe photoshop

A new page in the history of Adobe Photoshop started upon the second millennium and the announcement another software version. It was improved with Vector shapes and Blending options. Some work was done on managing text that allowed to type in freely, not being limited by the box frame.

New Features:

  • Vector shapes
  • Liquify Filter
  • Styles of layers
  • Dialog menus
  • Improvements to the interface

Photoshop 7.0

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It took another two years for the developers to generate the final version of this series. It came with a convenient file manager that simplified browsing through your computer folders. Two major additions were Brushes and Patch tool.

New Features:

  • Healing Brush
  • Vector text designs
  • Convenient Photoshop file manager

Photoshop Creative Series Era

Photoshop evolution is a fascinating and interesting journey that illustrates how the photo editing industry changes due to customers preferences.

Photoshop CS

types of photoshop

When was Photoshop invented? Well, the pilot version of the photo editing program was released in 2003. It was called Photoshop 8.0 (or Photoshop CS) and included the so-called Counterfeit Deterrence System that reused paper currency replication. The first Photoshop version also contained layers grouping and that made the program more convenient in usage.

New Features:

  • Camera RAW 2.x
  • Improved “Slice Tool”
  • Highlight and Shadow Command
  • Color Match option
  • Filter “Lens Blur”
  • Smart Guides
  • Real-Time Histogram
  • The option of ignoring and detecting banknotes images

Photoshop CS2

photoshop cs2 version

In 2005, a new version of the program was released – Photoshop CS2. Among notable improvements are red eyes effect neutralization and vanishing point tool as well as instruments that allow enlarging or cropping the picture with no harm to its quality.

New Features:

  • RAW 3.x camera
  • Smart Objects
  • Picture Warp
  • Spot healing brush
  • Red-Eye instrument
  • Lens Correction filter
  • Sharpening
  • Smart Guides
  • Vanishing Point
  • Memory regulation for 64-bit power PC G5s

Photoshop CS3

photoshop cs3

We continue our fascinating journey of the history of Photoshop and here we find the next version of the program, which was released two years later, in 2007. The major and the best enhancement was the program’s speed. It became more mobile and more comfortable in usage. The most efficient implementations were Adobe Camera Raw and the Quick Selection tool.

New Features:

  • Black &White conversion settings
  • Auto Blend and Auto Align
  • Filters which are not destructive
  • Graphics optimization of mobile device
  • Better support for Windows Vista and Intel base Macintosh platform
  • Improved user interface
  • Print Dialog, Channel Mixer, Brightness and Contrast, Vanishing Point and Curves

Photoshop CS4

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In 2008, the history of Photoshop was marked with the release of the fourth version of the product. What was new? First of all, panning and zooming, Adjustment and Mask panels were improved.


  • Modified Adjustments window
  • More precise use of burn and dodge effects
  • Modernized auto-blending feature
  • Improved cropping
  • Special pixel grid for processig individual pixels
  • Renewed Adjustments and Mask panels
  • The functions of Panning and Zooming became smoother
  • Assistance in color-blinding
  • Painting and editing of 3D objects
  • Animation in 3D became available
  • Conversion of 2D files and objects into a 3D format

Photoshop CS5

photoshop cs5

Automatic Lens сorrection, Bristle tips, Mixer Brush and Puppet Warp Tool – these are the main new instruments of the Photoshop CS5 version released in 2010. By the way, the Masking tool was improved.

New Features:

  • Enhanced Fill
  • Improved technology of selection
  • HDR processing is advanced
  • Better raw processing
  • Various painting effects
  • Localized Warp instrument
  • Auto lens correction
  • Organization of workspace
  • Extended 3D functions

Photoshop CS6

importance of photoshop

In two years, the history of Adobe Photoshop was marked with a new event – the release of the sixth version of the program. There you can take advantage of some new functions like autosaving, patch and move instruments, and a few other features which didn’t exist before.


  • Darkened User Interface
  • Adobe Camera Raw 7.0
  • Improved Move
  • Tilt-Shift, Iris and Field Blur
  • Adaptive Wide Angle
  • New crop tool

Photoshop CC

photoshop cc

This version was the next page in Photoshop history. The release of this version gave a start to a dynamic implementation of cloud technologies, which give the opportunity to synchronize program settings with cloud storages. Moreover, a few new functions were added, such as Smart Sharpen Filter and Camera Shake Reduction. You may use Photoshop filters and make photo retouching faster.

New Features:

  • Stroke Smoothing Function
  • Brushes designed by Kyle T. Webster
  • Masking improvements
  • Access to Lightroom images
  • Fast Share Menu
  • Curvature Pen Instrument
  • Copy-Paste Layers

Photoshop: Today and Tomorrow

Everybody will agree that in the modern world of photography, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of Photoshop. Both professional photographers and those who treat photography as a hobby need it. History of Photoshop started in 2003 and it is still moving on.

photoshop history log

Photoshop, although being the best one, has many competitors on the market, less professional, created by amateurs, with less power and less number of tools but with lower price as their best advantage.

  • Check out free Photoshop alternatives.

One of these programs is as Paint Shop Pro for Windows that still need to work for many years to reach the Photoshop level. How to beat those companies? Adobe doesn’t want to do that, moreover, the company joined them, merged their budgets in order to create an efficient program – Photoshop Elements.

As for the future history of Photoshop, Adobe keeps that in secret. Although the direction of Adobe Photoshop gives us some clues. We are waiting for a new 64-bit version of the app in the near future and the Apple Core Image technology support with a lot of new modifications. The constant rumors about Photoshop and Illustrator merging are also promising.

As you can see, anything can happen, but all these changes will be inevitably connected with one person – Thomas Knoll. Although he isn’t exactly involved in improving Photoshop today, he still keeps his hand in as well as his brother, who works at ILM and who was Visual Effects Supervisor on three new Star Wars Films.

What are the uses of Photoshop? It depends on your needs, fantasy and desires. Photoshop tools can realize all your wishes and you will receive a picture of your dream. This program is extremely useful. That is why so many photographers, filmmakers and amateurs adore this program and that is why the latest version of the application is only the beginning of Photoshop history.

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