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Happy b-day, P’shop!

Adobe Photoshop turns twenty today. And, oh, what fun we have had!

Actually, the image editing system I learned on predated Photoshop by several years. Several years was a millenimum in early computing days; desktop computers couldn’t do shit in 1987. They certainly couldn’t do shit graphically. But my machine was stuffed full of a hundred grand worth of special bits and it could do shit. The image editing software it ran gave P’shop a run for its money for years.

An important part of my job in those days was a sort of vaudeville routine where I demo’ed that big boy for clients in real-time. So they’d know what a righteous, bad-ass research and engineering firm we were.

Can you remember a time when people said things like, “photos don’t lie” (and really believed it) and Leisure Suit Larry was a cutting edge computer game? Well, that’s when I was taking snapshots with a video frame grabber, lassoing bits and moving them around before a customer’s very eyes.

You shoulda seen their faces! (Particularly after I erased their noses and replaced them with supplemental eyes). Many thought it was some kind of trick we were playing with video. Computers couldn’t do things like that!

Anyhow, I know I’ve told all my war stories before (blogger’s privilege, telling them again). Happy birthday, P’shop — and here’s to the next amazing technology nobody ever saw coming.


Comment from Pavel
Time: February 19, 2010, 7:29 pm

“They certainly couldn’t do shit graphically.”

You’re forgetting the ascii porn. You just needed a Shift key to create maximum amber (or green) hilarity in those days.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 19, 2010, 7:53 pm

“here’s to the next amazing technology nobody ever saw coming.”

Well, if it’s something that can make me young, horny and appealing to women again (Like a major powerball win), I’m all in….

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 19, 2010, 8:17 pm

What was it, a Quantel Paintbox? I remember being blown away by one of those at a trade fair in the 80’s.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 19, 2010, 8:25 pm

I use to sell mainframe computers. The little DEC workstations were just coming out and we thought they were so cute! I loved doing tradeshows and I remember being at one where we all got together that night in a bar and started trading jokes and stories about the shit that was coming out. We laughed our asses off when someone told us they were going to put little bar codes on food and run them through ocr scanners.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 19, 2010, 8:55 pm

No, it was a turnkey system called Autographix. Company from Boston. We bought one of their vector graphics workstations in 1985, and the paint system (they called it the Image Capture System) in 1987. We also had a 35mm camera and slide-shooter from them. Did business with them for many, many years.

Toward, the end, they made all their money as a print operation, making the actual slides and overhead transparencies for their old customer base. The weird thing? Their last office, and the one that kept the name when they folded, is in someplace like Surrey.

We passed a van with Autographix on it the other day and my head almost exploded.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 19, 2010, 9:02 pm

I love these old tech threads, by the way. I remember it so vividly. I was so insanely and unexpectedly excited by it all.

Do you know, of all the Bond films, the one that holds up least well is the one with the early computer tech. Was that Moonraker?

All the earlier mechanical gadgets age fine, but that early computer gear (dot-matrix printer graphics? AIIIII!) just looks pathetic.

I think in the early ’80s, people had vague ideas where it was going, but were terrified of saying something as preposterous as you’ll be able to watch movies on a computer. Ridiculous!

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: February 19, 2010, 9:59 pm

Ah, the fun we have had …
-discovering the wonders of true multitasking (Run the spectrometer AND check your email? YES!)
-Moria. You remember it, confess. The capital letter L still makes me break out in a sweat.
-upgrading my advisor’s computer without telling him. We gave him a hard drive with the OS preinstalled. Took him two weeks to figure out he wasn’t booting from the floppies any more. Also, he wouldn’t let me leave after I graduated until I *wrote down* the commands to copy a file from drive a: to drive b: because he Couldn’t Cope with the complexity.
-OS/2. I liked it.
-VAX. I hated it.
– 32 color monitors are really intended to display cool fractal graphics.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 19, 2010, 10:39 pm

I use GIMP, its Photoshop for free based on UNIX. I just can’t figure out how to do layers, the “help” function is really anemic.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 19, 2010, 11:57 pm

Layers in GIMP work the same as Photoshop. I quite like GIMP, although I prefer Photoshop.

Comment from Who me?
Time: February 20, 2010, 3:39 am

This one is the latest in the generation. Seriously, I thought of it by noticing the reflective metallic straps they put on telephone poles.


But, my EBP has always been my favorites. Of course that one got fried when the price of oil went up. Bastards, Cap and Trade is cash in my pocket.

Comment from Blast Hardcheese
Time: February 20, 2010, 8:38 am

I just re-watched “The Andromeda Strain” the other day and it’s amazing how well the tech in the film holds up, even though nowadays the multi-million-dollar installation shown in the film could be run with a frickin’ laptop.

The ASCII graphics were a little hokey, though.

My favorite Weasel P-shop story was the time she got a really blurry image of a plane (early stealth fighter, I think) and didn’t realize it had been deliberately obscured. She sets about sharpening it up, making it look pretty. Then she shows the prettied-up image to her boss, and the guy damn near has a heart attack because the uber-secret plane is now no longer uber-secret.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 20, 2010, 8:40 am

You, sir, are a very strange spam.

Hey, there’s a new annoying orange!

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 20, 2010, 3:25 pm

I don’t know how layers work in Photoshop either 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 20, 2010, 5:41 pm

If you follow the link, one of the Adobe dudes is quoted as saying the introduction of layers was really when Photoshop became a useful graphical tool. I have to agree.

Heh. It was a stealth bomber, Hardcheese. Bossman nearly peed himself.

My favorite job was the time they slipped me an annual report before they went into a meeting with the client, and I took the picture of their corporate offices and blended it with a photo of a warehouse fire. We were able to get a slide made and in the tray before the meeting was over. Dudes thought their headquarters was engulfed in flames. Heh heh.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 20, 2010, 5:56 pm

I used a program called DPaint which was really powerful back in the day. It was able to do a lot of things no other program I tried were able to and produced very nice results. They had their own file format too, I can’t remember the extension.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 21, 2010, 1:18 pm

I am the suck with Photoshop. Big time. I need to take a class or something.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 21, 2010, 2:15 pm

Best way to learn Photoshop is to watch somebody. Actually, that’s how I like to learn anything…watching somebody expert doing it.

I had planned to do a site for Photoshop tutorials — I bought a URL and everything — but never got around to it.

Comment from paul s.
Time: February 22, 2010, 12:26 pm

Sorry, Ms. W., but the best way to learn is by watching “You Suck at PhotoShop” at mydamnchannel.com

Well, maybe not the best, but certainly the funniest. Pure comic genius.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 22, 2010, 4:31 pm

Hm. I assumed you were talking about this guy, paul — who, I agree, is hilarious.

But if you go to mydamnchannel.com and search for “You Suck at Photoshop” you get this lady.

To be fair, I was too lazy and in a hurry to go through the whole list of hits or watch any of them.

Comment from DJMoore
Time: February 22, 2010, 7:40 pm

I think I saw something like this at a trade-show back in the early nineties, maybe? I remember it being like a small desk, with a lovely color display.

The demonstrator took a photo of a pretty girl, and gave her a third eye, in about three minutes, if that.

Best thing in the whole show, and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t flocking around it in total awe, including journalists and lawyers pissing their pants with the realization that it meant that photos were worthless as evidence now.

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