The complete history of Adobe Photoshop

history of adobe photoshop

Display! What is it?

Display, the first grayscale image displaying software written by Thomas Knoll
Display, the first grayscale image displaying software written by Thomas Knoll that

The story of Photoshop started in 1987, when one American Ph.D. engineering student of the University of Michigan, Thomas Knoll wrote a graphic applications subroutine on a Macintosh Plus computer.

This software was used to display grayscale images on a monochrome display.

Knoll named it Display. We now consider Display as the unofficial father of our beloved Photoshop.

The very first Photoshop version was released in January 1988.

Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics i.e Dot Matrix Data Structure/square grid of pixels photo editor. It was developed and published by Adobe Systems for Mac OS and Windows.

The first version of Photoshop was distributed commercially by scanner company “Barneyscan XP”.


Thomas Knoll, inventor of the Photoshop

The creators of Photoshop was Thomas Knoll and John Knoll. It was created in 1987 since it has become an industry-standard photo editing and graphics design application. They later sold the distribution license to Adobe Systems incorporated in 1988 that was not publicly released. This demo was the primary far-famed copy of Photoshop with any dissemination.

John Knoll, brother of Thomas Knoll

From the very childhood, Thomas Knoll was very keen on Photography. He had his own darkroom for development in his basement. Most of the time he used to work on photos. One day Thomas Knoll was writing a computer program on his Macintosh Plus so that he can display grayscale images on a monochrome display. 

This program called Display instantly grabbed the attention of his brother John Knoll who suggested that Thomas should turn it into a full-fledged image editing software. Then both brothers collaborated on the idea. And finally, they coded it and were able to make the first photo editing software(with a little help from their father).

Some fun facts:

1. The First Photoshop image was John’s wife on the beach taken from a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.

Jennifer in Paradise, the first Photoshop image of John Knoll’s wife taken by John Knoll in 1987
Photoshop: The First Demo

2. Photoshop 1 was released on the 19th February 1994 Macintosh exclusively.

3. Photoshop naming scheme was initially based on version numbers Adobe published 13 versions before the October 2003 introduction of Creative Suite branding.

4. Adobe gave the source code of the 1990s 1.0.1 version of Photoshop to the Computer History Museum in February 2013.

5. Photoshop is available in 26 languages

6. Thomas and his brother John won an award on Scientific and Engineering Award for the original architecture, design, and development of Photoshop at the 2019 Oscars.

7. Versions were started as Photoshop, Photoshop CS, Photoshop CC

8. All the versions of Photoshop Logo

Logo Evolution: Adobe Photoshop

8. Here you can see all the versions of our favorite Photoshop from beginning to now.

1988 – 1989

Adobe Photoshop 0.63

1988: Adobe Photoshop 0.63

1989 – 1990

Adobe Photoshop 0.87

1989: Photoshop 0.87

1990 – 1991

Adobe Photoshop 1.0

Photoshop 1.0 Splash Screen (1990)
Adobe Photoshop 1.0 Workspace and Image Menu (1990)
Photoshop 1.0 Black and White Workspace (1990)
Adobe Photoshop 1.0 Airbrush Options (1990)
Photoshop 1.0 Color Picker (1990)
Adobe Photoshop 1.0 Brightness and Contrast Dialog (1990)

1991 – 1992

1991: Adobe Photoshop 2.0

Adobe Photoshop 2.0
Adobe Photoshop 2.0

1992 – 1993

1993: Adobe Photoshop 2.5

1993: Adobe Photoshop 2.5
Adobe Photoshop 2.5 for Windows Hue/Saturation Dialog (1992)

1993 – 1994

Adobe Photoshop 3.0

Adobe Photoshop 3.0 for Windows Splash Screen (1994)

1994 – 1996

Adobe Photoshop 4.0

1996: Adobe Photoshop 4.0

1996 – 1998

Adobe Photoshop 1998

1998: Adobe Photoshop 5.0

1998 – 1999

Adobe Photoshop 5.5

1999: Adobe Photoshop 5.5

1999 – 2000

Adobe Photoshop 6.0

2000: Adobe Photoshop 6.0

2000 – 2001

Adobe Photoshop Elements

2001: Adobe Photoshop Elements

2001 – 2002

Adobe Photoshop 7.0

2002: Adobe Photoshop 7.0

2002 – 2003

Adobe Photoshop CS

2003: Adobe Photoshop CS

2003 – 2005

Adobe Photoshop CS2

2005: Adobe Photoshop CS2

2005 – 2007

Adobe Photoshop CS3

2007: Adobe Photoshop CS3

2007 – 2008

Adobe Photoshop CS4

2008: Adobe Photoshop CS4

2008 – 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5

2010: Adobe Photoshop CS5

2010 – 2012

Adobe Photoshop CS6

2012: Adobe Photoshop CS6

2012 – 2013

Adobe Photoshop CC

2013: Adobe Photoshop CC

2013 – 2014

Adobe Photoshop CC 2014

Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 Splash Image (2014)

2014 – 2015

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Splash Image (2015)
Photoshop CC 2015 Splash Image (2015)

2015 – 2016

Adobe Photoshop CC 2016

Adobe Photoshop CC (2016)

2016 – 2017

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 Splash Image (2017)

2017 – 2018

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 Splash Image (2018)

2018 – 2019

Adobe Photoshop CC 2019

Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 Splash Image (2019)

2019 – 2020

Adobe Photoshop 2020

2020 Adobe Photoshop

2020 – Present

Adobe Photoshop 2021

2021 Adobe Photoshop
New Feature: Sky Replacement, Adobe Photoshop 2021
New Feature: Pattern Preview, Adobe Photoshop 2021
Brand New Features: Modern Duo-tone, Adobe Photoshop 2021
New Feature: Automatically Colorize Photos, Adobe Photoshop 2021
New Feature: Adjust Facial Features, Adobe Photoshop 2021


Looking back in Photoshop we can see how a simple idea can evolve into a useful and impacting tool and it would not be possible without Knoll’s Display. We would not have our favorite magic photo editing software right!

Undoubtedly, Photoshop is a gem on the crown of Adobe. Its development is closely guarded. 

Thomas Knoll is still making his hand dirty on making plugins coding and he will be remembered forever for his awesome work.

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C. Karmakar

First comment… What we can learn from this article is that a small idea can make a big difference.

Amarta Dey
Reply to  C. Karmakar

True… I agree 👍

Gopal Ch Das

Really, you did a good work. You offered me a chance to look the photoshop history back through your article. It enhanced my knowledge on photoshop. In one word, just awsome work you have done! Thank you so much. Hope you will gift us such interesting and helpful article in near future. Thanks🙏

Amarta Dey
Reply to  Gopal Ch Das

Thank you for your good review. Glad that the information in this article was helpful for you👍👍

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