Photoshop turns 25 today. To celebrate, Adobe has published a Q&A with its co-creator, Thomas Knoll, that provides some interesting insight into how the program was born.
Just before he set his hand to developing Photoshop, Knoll was a graduate student tackling a challenge that still consumes computer scientists today: teaching computers to recognize and understand images. His brother John, meanwhile, was employed at Industrial Light and Magic doing analog image composition. ILM had just begun to experiment with digital processing using a scanner to scan in frames from a movie, process them, and then write the images out to film.
“My brother saw that and had a revelation,” Knoll says. “He said, ‘If we convert the movie footage into numbers, and we can convert the numbers back into movie footage, then once it’s in the numerical form we could do anything to it.’ We’d have complete power. With digital, you can change every pixel into anything you want, and you can perform any operation with the film footage that you can imagine. Then he said, ‘This is the future of special effects in movies,’ and decided to teach himself computer graphics in his spare time.”