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Computer History Museum shares original Adobe Photoshop source code

By dpreview staff on Feb 15, 2013 at 23:44 GMT

The source code of the original version of Adobe Photoshop has been made available by The Computer History Museum, based in California. Photoshop started off in the 1980s as a program called 'Display' written by Thomas Knoll, before being renamed 'Photoshop' in 1990 - the year that the first version of the software shipped to customers. The download, which is available for non-commercial use with the permission of Adobe, consists of around 128,000 lines of code.

Screenshot of the the first version of Adobe Photoshop released in 1990

The verb 'to Photoshop' is common now, but as Len Shustek - chairman of the board of trustees at the California-based museum - says in a blog post on the museum's website, 'when brothers Thomas and John Knoll began designing and writing an image editing program in the late 1980s, they could not have imagined that they would be adding a word to the dictionary.'

Homescreen showing the available tools in Photoshop V1. Note how the icons of each tool are
still much the same now - 23 years after version 1 shipped.

The source code is available for non-commercial use, and you must accept a license agreement before downloading. The Computer History Museum has also provided links to the 1990 version of the Adobe Photoshop User Guide and the original Tutorial.

The first version of Photoshop allowed users to select brush color as well as size and texture.

Click here to download Photoshop v1.0.1 source code from the Computer History Museum

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Comments

Total comments: 43
Danny
By Danny (5 months ago)

I started working with version 3, somewhere in the 90ties. Al these years I have invested in PS until it became a CEO-corrupted company trying to seduce people into their money-pit Cloud-system. How beautiful things can become so ugly.

0 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (Feb 20, 2013)

Sounds a fascinating exhibit, but Papplewick pumping station's twin James Watt beam engine on a steaming day looks more like real science is happening. However Knock your self out!

0 upvotes
fairfaxian
By fairfaxian (Feb 18, 2013)

I was a beta test site in San Francisco for Photoshop 1.0 (so we were testing beta versions, pre-release) Foolishly, I later discarded my original diskettes AND the Photoshop 1.0 user manual !!!

I had 8Mb ram, 13" monitor. Macintosh II. I soon upgraded to the Mac FX, and got a special 128mb ram board that cost THOUSAND$. My first 19" monitor was probably over $2500. A 600mb HD was almost $3K.

Photoshop 1.0 only had ONE UNDO, and no layers. You could not view a CMYK file in color -and all my clients required CMYK as they were print ad agencies. You sent the file out for a proof and hoped for the best. I used to test hardware upgrades by converting a 10x10" 300ppi RGB file to CMYK. It takes a split second now. Back then - 3 mins, maybe more.

Photoshop changed my life. I think my studio was the first all photoshop retouching studio in SF -certainly in the downtown area. (I was there from 1990-2002) I have been a pro retoucher -Photoshop steadily since 1990. Thank you Adobe!

0 upvotes
bronson
By bronson (Feb 19, 2013)

I hear you about the thousands$. Our production shop of the early 90's had 3 Macs for colour retouching, decked out with all kinds of upgrades and huge monitors for the tune of about 25K a piece... not to mention 2 scanners worth $300K/each. Makes me wonder how it was affordable.... mind you hourly rates were through the roof too.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Feb 18, 2013)

So I can have the source code to Photoshop from over 30 years ago, or I can have the source code to GIMP from this morning. Hmmm...

2 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (Feb 18, 2013)

Ah! Nostalgia.

Photoshop 2.5 was my first version, running on System 7.

Personally, I don't use Photoshop anymore, have not done so for the last 3 years. For me it's Lightroom and Pixelmator. Covers all my needs.

Recent incarnations of Photoshop don't offer that much more than the previous version and at a BLOATED upgrade price.

There is only so far you can take a product. I feel that Adobe is flogging a dead horse and screwing as much money out of you as possible.

Hey! If it's of use to you and wanna spend the money - you're welcome.

0 upvotes
designdef
By designdef (Feb 17, 2013)

"Note how the icons of each tool are still much the same now - 23 years after version 1 shipped." and of course note how bloated and expensive it has become for more or less, the same product?

2 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Feb 17, 2013)

And it's still the most complicated and unnecessary piece of software owned by most photographers...!

0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (Feb 18, 2013)

It's not complicated at all. Don't be scared to use it. I work with it since 1998 every day. The CS6 version is fantastic

0 upvotes
Copicfun
By Copicfun (Feb 19, 2013)

Forgot your <sarcasm> tags

0 upvotes
Brian_Smith
By Brian_Smith (Feb 17, 2013)

The Pong of digital imaging. Gotta love the classics!

0 upvotes
bronson
By bronson (Feb 17, 2013)

I was working in a "high end", multi-million dollar agency back in the mid/late 80s when a salesman came by one day with Photoshop and a Mac. The agency people listened to his sales pitch and said, "thanks, we'll get back to you". For days after, around the office, he was at the butt end of jokes as if he was a vacuum salesman, or worse.

As I recall, even after the Mac was catching on with our competitors, our agency prided themselves in the "craftsmanship" of hand drawn and produced work. Talk about no foresight. Within a few years they were no more.

1 upvote
photorudhra
By photorudhra (Feb 17, 2013)

The classic Photoshop

0 upvotes
joe_leads
By joe_leads (Feb 16, 2013)

Color image editing on a black&white screen. Those were tough times, but users were excited because they had the latest and hottest stuff at their fingertips.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Feb 16, 2013)

Macs had color in 1990. The screen shots are just black and white.

3 upvotes
yudhir
By yudhir (Feb 18, 2013)

Screen shots were taken through black and white digital cameras literally.

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Feb 18, 2013)

If you had a Mac II, applications ran in color. If you had any other Mac that was available at the time (Mac Plus, Mac SE...), the same color Photoshop UI was on that Mac's black-and-white screen. The screen shots were probably taken on on of the more common black-and-white Macs.

0 upvotes
JJ Rodin
By JJ Rodin (Feb 16, 2013)

So 'Pascal' was used to code this first released version, does anyone know what computer language is used now (OO?) and what is their 'primary' development OS/platform?

PS: The first few releases of Lightroom were VERY 'Mac' like (too click intensive), unfortunately! They did not have the double click to reset the sliders for ex. It was not until they got the crew from Pixmantec (rawshooter) did they get a 'reasonable' UI, and LR has gotten better ever since!!

0 upvotes
pancakeface
By pancakeface (Feb 16, 2013)

I'm pretty sure they use C++

0 upvotes
lap777
By lap777 (Feb 16, 2013)

I think that Stroustrup said so himself (the inventor of C++)

0 upvotes
Z (is real)
By Z (is real) (Feb 17, 2013)

Photoshop was converted to C++ for version 2.5 in 1991-1992.

0 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (Feb 18, 2013)

C++? Good grief, the language that invented the memory leak.

0 upvotes
KEG
By KEG (Feb 18, 2013)

It is quite possible to program in C++ without causing a single memory leak ever.

0 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (Feb 18, 2013)

Of course it is. It's also much easier to cause one than in more modern languages.

You would have to be a bit of a masochist to choose C++ to develop a desktop application these days.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Roland_Lislevane
By Roland_Lislevane (Feb 16, 2013)

The feature most sorely missed today is called "competition".

10 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Feb 16, 2013)

PTGUI (or many others) for overlaying/stitching/stacking images quickly and accurately. If you're a Nikon user, Capture NX2 for raw processing, D-lighting and the totally brilliant selection tool. If the Photo$hop's useless mouse implementation get's right up your nose, Corel Photopaint has good clone tool and also has a fine set of filters. Beware of Corel's DRM though, which can be disabled.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Feb 16, 2013)

No, the real missing features is a lack of proper research by the consumer/customer.

Most people don't even bother to look for anything other than Photoshop, because it is supposed to be 'the standard'.

There are enough (cheaper) alternatives that would satisfy the majority of users who don't even use (or need) half the features that are unique to this program.

7 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Feb 16, 2013)

I'm with JaFO. There are a lot of alternatives out there. The world has a ton of creative people daily making a better mousetrap.

0 upvotes
LarryK
By LarryK (Feb 17, 2013)

There have been a lot of "Photoshop Killers" along the way, but most of them died.

0 upvotes
Fatality
By Fatality (Feb 18, 2013)

Few years ago I switched to GIMP and Blender from Photoshop and Maya, and I'm very happy with my new work-flow.. Excellent efficient tools created by artists and developers, not by corporate trolls that need to spit out a new version of software every year or two to milk the cash from the sheep.. :)

2 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Feb 16, 2013)

WRT CS4 (V11), the Adobe wunderkind need a clip round the ear for:
Failing to implement the RH mouse control properly,
Failing to produce software that overlays images accurately for e.g. stacking or stitching,
The obscene pricing policy for upgrades to CS5/6,
The antiquated toolset which hasn't changed since the early days,
Rubbish filters,
Lousy memory management/garbage collection.
The letteraset facilities are good though.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Feb 16, 2013)

There's no need to change if your customers blindly buy your program.
And if sales are low then you can always blame piracy (something which must have helped cement Adobe's position in the market as 'standard' ... )

1 upvote
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Feb 16, 2013)

Well, now you have source code to build your own perfect app. I am sure a weekend or work would get you past those slackers at Adobe.

1 upvote
gsum
By gsum (Feb 16, 2013)

Photmonkey: I'm an ex-software engineer and am well aware of the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into these products. Your comment really backs up the point that I'm trying to make - that with just a little more effort, Adobe could resolve the problems that I outlined and they would then have a great product. Even so, whether it would be worth the 700GBP UK asking price is debatable.

1 upvote
Spectro
By Spectro (Feb 16, 2013)

those icons look familiar. RGB slider on a B&W screen back then too works wonder.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
viclauyyc
By viclauyyc (Feb 16, 2013)

Who need to pirate Photoshop CS6 now when you can download the source code of Photoshop 1.07 for free. Just built your own photoshop from it

3 upvotes
Laurentiu Todie
By Laurentiu Todie (Feb 16, 2013)

1.07 was my early poison also.
How the code was structured never held me back ever since from putting this amazing software to profitable use.

I have a thought for detractors but won't post it here.

0 upvotes
photoway
By photoway (Feb 16, 2013)

Old memories..

Back in 1989-1990 I've testes 6 graphic "programs" on my Mac Plus 1 Mb of Ram and 20 Mb Hard Drive : PixelPaint, Paint, .... and Photosthop 1.0b7

..I've chose the last on... and 23 years later I know that I've made the right choice ;-)

Richard

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
mrmart
By mrmart (Feb 16, 2013)

Glad to hear you had 'testes' even back in the 1980s

13 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Feb 16, 2013)

Interesting, since Adobe just builds off of and over outdated code what's in the original here might still be present in the latest~

1 upvote
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Feb 16, 2013)

That's probably not possible since all the transitions that Photoshop has had to go through. On the Mac side a lot of the old code had to be rewritten as a result of moving to Cocoa.

The article from The Verge explains more:
http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/13/3959868/photoshop-is-a-city-for-everyone-how-adobe-endlessly-rebuilds-its

3 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Feb 16, 2013)

Writing a new feature from scratch is kind of hard to sell to management, especially if there is a lot of risk and a deadline ...
Then again, there is such a thing as code rot.

0 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Feb 16, 2013)

Did you read his comments on the code in his article?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 43