Topics

Twenty-five years ago


Dan Margulis
 

This month marks the 25th anniversary of a major advance in the development of our field: the release of Photoshop 3.0.

It was full of important new features but the one we remember most today was the introduction of layers. Indeed, it is hard for us to imagine life without them. Then again, it is hard to imagine life without Adjustment layers, or actions, both of which features came two years later in Photoshop 4. And how could we have worked without multiple undo, when we could cancel our last move but not get back to anything previous?. That feature, with the accompanying history palette, didn’t arrive for four more years.

The deeper significance is that Photoshop 3 resolved the question of whether the program was going to turn into a general-purpose novelty or a tool aimed at professionals. In the early 1990s serious retouching work was confined to extremely expensive workstations, such as those offered by Scitex. Adherents to these systems commonly referred to Macintoshes (there being no serious PC competition at the time) as toys. Much of this alleged advantage was brute-force computing power: a workstation that is fifty times as expensive can be expected to be perhaps twenty times as fast.

Some of it, however, was a matter of focus. At that time, the overwhelming majority of professional work was destined for CMYK—but Photoshop did not support CMYK files until version 2.5, shortly before 3.0. And then there was the performance issue: most users had only 8 megabytes (yes, MEGAbytes) of RAM. When a Photoshop calculation could not be accommodated in this tiny amount of RAM it had to be done in virtual memory, usually on a slow, fragmented small hard disk—few people had one larger than a gigabyte.

The Photoshop 3 team could have just waited for hard drives to get bigger, faster, and cheaper, which happened quickly enough. Instead, they took a move that sounds less significant than it was. They put in a requirement for 16 mb of RAM—adding several hundred dollars to the cost of a Photoshop-capable Mac. They thus kissed more than half of their potential market goodbye, in the interest of making a program more professional-friendly. In subsequent years, they would increase the minimum RAM requirement again and again.

And we were on our way. When Photoshop 3 was released few of us had enough power to be able to even consider multiple layers. By Photoshop 6, six years later, there was enough demand for the capability that the Photoshop team had to eliminate the previous limit of 99 layers on a single file.

I was writing my first book during the Photoshop 3 beta period, while doing high-quality retouching with the program at a large NYC operation that serviced Madison Avenue. You would recognize the clients and the jobs, but not the workflow. I typically was using two computers, working two jobs at a time. While one Mac was churning away at sharpening or whatever, I’d turn to the other and light off a different operation on a different job. A terrible procedure by today’s standards but the results were there. The publisher and I, searching for a title, decided on Professional Photoshop—a contradiction in terms a couple of years back.

I’ll refrain from quoting myself and instead offer an excerpt from a book that came out a couple of months before mine, Photoshop 3.0: Knock Their Socks Off! by my friend Peter Fink, who was at that time a leading expert on PostScript and halftoning.

Because each layer is an additional color image, it places significant demands on your computer system. If your image is moderately large in size and moderately high in resolution, adding numerous layers can quickly exhaust the RAM assigned to Photoshop. In response, the program begins to use your hard disk to handle the overflow, which slows down performance and increases the time it takes you to finish your work.

Also, working with layers requires a certain amount of mouse activity, which can sometimes be avoided by using simpler methods. Layers are so intuitive that you might find yourself using them for routine jobs when the same result can be achieved faster with a few simple keystrokes and a few mouse clicks.

The point of diminishing returns with layers depends on how you work and what you need to accomplish, so it’s not possible to give hard-and-fast rules. The best advice is this: Think before you automatically work with multiple layers, merge layers whenever you can, and use layers as sparingly as possible.
Of course, this advice sounds silly today, but it was eminently correct in 1994. Workflows change with the tools available.

I’ll give Peter the last word on the impact of this incredibly significant software release. Here is how he introduced the advice above. Its last phrase is worth re-reading, and is just as valid for anything written today.

A powerful creative tool requires time to absorb. As this book is written, few people have had the opportunity to work extensively with Photoshop layers, This chapter discusses concepts and practices that are evident now, with the awareness that time and experience may offer additional insights on this subject.

Dan Margulis


Laurentiu Todie
 

Photoshop 3.0 was a cardinal release even for those of us professional dot etchers more than familiar with CMYK on film.
I started working on Macintoshes with 128k of RAM, and later with two floppy discs, one of 800k and the big one of 1.4Mb. in Photoshop 1.7 (after Display and Barneyscan).
Those were the days : )
Chromacomp, Black Box, Scitex were generating transparencies (large slides) that were scanned on Hell, Imacom, Howtek drum scanners and later on 3M retouching, separation film outputting stations.


On Sep 14, 2019, at 9:39 AM, dmargulis DMargulis@... [COLORTHEORY] <COLORTHEORY@...> wrote:

This month marks the 25th anniversary of a major advance in the development of our field: the release of Photoshop 3.0.

It was full of important new features but the one we remember most today was the introduction of layers. Indeed, it is hard for us to imagine life without them. Then again, it is hard to imagine life without Adjustment layers, or actions, both of which features came two years later in Photoshop 4. And how could we have worked without multiple undo, when we could cancel our last move but not get back to anything previous?. That feature, with the accompanying history palette, didn’t arrive for four more years.

The deeper significance is that Photoshop 3 resolved the question of whether the program was going to turn into a general-purpose novelty or a tool aimed at professionals. In the early 1990s serious retouching work was confined to extremely expensive workstations, such as those offered by Scitex. Adherents to these systems commonly referred to Macintoshes (there being no serious PC competition at the time) as toys. Much of this alleged advantage was brute-force computing power: a workstation that is fifty times as expensive can be expected to be perhaps twenty times as fast.

Some of it, however, was a matter of focus. At that time, the overwhelming majority of professional work was destined for CMYK—but Photoshop did not support CMYK files until version 2.5, shortly before 3.0. And then there was the performance issue: most users had only 8 megabytes (yes, MEGAbytes) of RAM. When a Photoshop calculation could not be accommodated in this tiny amount of RAM it had to be done in virtual memory, usually on a slow, fragmented small hard disk—few people had one larger than a gigabyte.

The Photoshop 3 team could have just waited for hard drives to get bigger, faster, and cheaper, which happened quickly enough. Instead, they took a move that sounds less significant than it was. They put in a requirement for 16 mb of RAM—adding several hundred dollars to the cost of a Photoshop-capable Mac. They thus kissed more than half of their potential market goodbye, in the interest of making a program more professional-friendly. In subsequent years, they would increase the minimum RAM requirement again and again.

And we were on our way. When Photoshop 3 was released few of us had enough power to be able to even consider multiple layers. By Photoshop 6, six years later, there was enough demand for the capability that the Photoshop team had to eliminate the previous limit of 99 layers on a single file.

I was writing my first book during the Photoshop 3 beta period, while doing high-quality retouching with the program at a large NYC operation that serviced Madison Avenue. You would recognize the clients and the jobs, but not the workflow. I typically was using two computers, working two jobs at a time. While one Mac was churning away at sharpening or whatever, I’d turn to the other and light off a different operation on a different job. A terrible procedure by today’s standards but the results were there. The publisher and I, searching for a title, decided on Professional Photoshop—a contradiction in terms a couple of years back.

I’ll refrain from quoting myself and instead offer an excerpt from a book that came out a couple of months before mine, Photoshop 3.0: Knock Their Socks Off! by my friend Peter Fink, who was at that time a leading expert on PostScript and halftoning.

Because each layer is an additional color image, it places significant demands on your computer system. If your image is moderately large in size and moderately high in resolution, adding numerous layers can quickly exhaust the RAM assigned to Photoshop. In response, the program begins to use your hard disk to handle the overflow, which slows down performance and increases the time it takes you to finish your work.

Also, working with layers requires a certain amount of mouse activity, which can sometimes be avoided by using simpler methods. Layers are so intuitive that you might find yourself using them for routine jobs when the same result can be achieved faster with a few simple keystrokes and a few mouse clicks.

The point of diminishing returns with layers depends on how you work and what you need to accomplish, so it’s not possible to give hard-and-fast rules. The best advice is this: Think before you automatically work with multiple layers, merge layers whenever you can, and use layers as sparingly as possible.

Of course, this advice sounds silly today, but it was eminently correct in 1994. Workflows change with the tools available.

I’ll give Peter the last word on the impact of this incredibly significant software release. Here is how he introduced the advice above. Its last phrase is worth re-reading, and is just as valid for anything written today.

A powerful creative tool requires time to absorb. As this book is written, few people have had the opportunity to work extensively with Photoshop layers, This chapter discusses concepts and practices that are evident now, with the awareness that time and experience may offer additional insights on this subject.


Dan Margulis


Laurentiu Todie
DIGITALIS.ART




john c.
 

What a trip down amnesia lane! I began doing digital graphics in 1984 using a proprietary system that ran on the CPM operating system, which of course no one remembers because then the Mac was introduced and things were never the same. Does anyone remember Genegraphics, Dicomed and Quantel? Those of us who were doing digital in those days were forced to make enormous investments in equipment that quickly turned into doorstops as more and more work went to our desktops, and then to our customer’s desktops, usually before we could even pay off the leases. I learned not to try being on the cutting edge of any of it.
 
John Castronovo
 
 

Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2019 8:37 AM
Subject: Re: [COLORTHEORY] Twenty-five years ago
 


Photoshop 3.0 was a cardinal release even for those of us professional dot etchers more than familiar with CMYK on film.
I started working on Macintoshes with 128k of RAM, and later with two floppy discs, one of 800k and the big one of 1.4Mb. in Photoshop 1.7 (after Display and Barneyscan).
Those were the days : )
Chromacomp, Black Box, Scitex were generating transparencies (large slides) that were scanned on Hell, Imacom, Howtek drum scanners and later on 3M retouching, separation film outputting stations.
 

On Sep 14, 2019, at 9:39 AM, dmargulis DMargulis@... [COLORTHEORY] <COLORTHEORY@...> wrote:
 
This month marks the 25th anniversary of a major advance in the development of our field: the release of Photoshop 3.0.

It was full of important new features but the one we remember most today was the introduction of layers. Indeed, it is hard for us to imagine life without them. Then again, it is hard to imagine life without Adjustment layers, or actions, both of which features came two years later in Photoshop 4. And how could we have worked without multiple undo, when we could cancel our last move but not get back to anything previous?. That feature, with the accompanying history palette, didn’t arrive for four more years.

The deeper significance is that Photoshop 3 resolved the question of whether the program was going to turn into a general-purpose novelty or a tool aimed at professionals. In the early 1990s serious retouching work was confined to extremely expensive workstations, such as those offered by Scitex. Adherents to these systems commonly referred to Macintoshes (there being no serious PC competition at the time) as toys. Much of this alleged advantage was brute-force computing power: a workstation that is fifty times as expensive can be expected to be perhaps twenty times as fast.

Some of it, however, was a matter of focus. At that time, the overwhelming majority of professional work was destined for CMYK—but Photoshop did not support CMYK files until version 2.5, shortly before 3.0. And then there was the performance issue: most users had only 8 megabytes (yes, MEGAbytes) of RAM. When a Photoshop calculation could not be accommodated in this tiny amount of RAM it had to be done in virtual memory, usually on a slow, fragmented small hard disk—few people had one larger than a gigabyte.

The Photoshop 3 team could have just waited for hard drives to get bigger, faster, and cheaper, which happened quickly enough. Instead, they took a move that sounds less significant than it was. They put in a requirement for 16 mb of RAM—adding several hundred dollars to the cost of a Photoshop-capable Mac. They thus kissed more than half of their potential market goodbye, in the interest of making a program more professional-friendly. In subsequent years, they would increase the minimum RAM requirement again and again.

And we were on our way. When Photoshop 3 was released few of us had enough power to be able to even consider multiple layers. By Photoshop 6, six years later, there was enough demand for the capability that the Photoshop team had to eliminate the previous limit of 99 layers on a single file.

I was writing my first book during the Photoshop 3 beta period, while doing high-quality retouching with the program at a large NYC operation that serviced Madison Avenue. You would recognize the clients and the jobs, but not the workflow. I typically was using two computers, working two jobs at a time. While one Mac was churning away at sharpening or whatever, I’d turn to the other and light off a different operation on a different job. A terrible procedure by today’s standards but the results were there. The publisher and I, searching for a title, decided on Professional Photoshop—a contradiction in terms a couple of years back.

I’ll refrain from quoting myself and instead offer an excerpt from a book that came out a couple of months before mine, Photoshop 3.0: Knock Their Socks Off! by my friend Peter Fink, who was at that time a leading expert on PostScript and halftoning.

Because each layer is an additional color image, it places significant demands on your computer system. If your image is moderately large in size and moderately high in resolution, adding numerous layers can quickly exhaust the RAM assigned to Photoshop. In response, the program begins to use your hard disk to handle the overflow, which slows down performance and increases the time it takes you to finish your work.

Also, working with layers requires a certain amount of mouse activity, which can sometimes be avoided by using simpler methods. Layers are so intuitive that you might find yourself using them for routine jobs when the same result can be achieved faster with a few simple keystrokes and a few mouse clicks.

The point of diminishing returns with layers depends on how you work and what you need to accomplish, so it’s not possible to give hard-and-fast rules. The best advice is this: Think before you automatically work with multiple layers, merge layers whenever you can, and use layers as sparingly as possible.

Of course, this advice sounds silly today, but it was eminently correct in 1994. Workflows change with the tools available.

I’ll give Peter the last word on the impact of this incredibly significant software release. Here is how he introduced the advice above. Its last phrase is worth re-reading, and is just as valid for anything written today.

A powerful creative tool requires time to absorb. As this book is written, few people have had the opportunity to work extensively with Photoshop layers, This chapter discusses concepts and practices that are evident now, with the awareness that time and experience may offer additional insights on this subject.


Dan Margulis

 
Laurentiu Todie
DIGITALIS.ART
 
 
 


frombergmedia@...
 

I entered the digital world in 1993. After training at Linotype-Hell, I spent the next few months flatbed scanning and doing rudimentary color corrections and "retouching" on their clunky Linocolor software.

In April of '94 I took a three month Photoshop class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. If memory serves, the lab workstations had 8mb hard drives and 4 megs of RAM. We trained on Photoshop 2.5 and spent a great deal of our hands on time waiting for our little clip art collages to process.

A big part of the compositing procedure rested on floating selections, the precursor to layers. Each move involved an instant decision, as there were no layers and only one level of undo.

In retrospect, I'm happy to have had the opportunity to slag through the primordial ooze, as it enhanced my understanding of the tools that become available in subsequent upgrades, and all in all, made me a better retoucher.


John M. Henry
 

 

Photoshop 3, Quark & Freehand running on a quadra 840av, driving a Lino 330.  Man was that fast a productive, I man made some money.  Was saving over $100,000 in sep costs. Paid for everything first year.

 

John M. Henry

 

Speedway Press Mitchell Printing & Mailing Inc. The Phoenix Press

1 Burkle Street

Oswego NY 13126

315-343-3531

 

From: COLORTHEORY@...
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2019 8:37 AM
To: yg_1@... [COLORTHEORY]
Subject: Re: [COLORTHEORY] Twenty-five years ago

 



Photoshop 3.0 was a cardinal release even for those of us professional dot etchers more than familiar with CMYK on film.

I started working on Macintoshes with 128k of RAM, and later with two floppy discs, one of 800k and the big one of 1.4Mb. in Photoshop 1.7 (after Display and Barneyscan).

Those were the days : )

Chromacomp, Black Box, Scitex were generating transparencies (large slides) that were scanned on Hell, Imacom, Howtek drum scanners and later on 3M retouching, separation film outputting stations.

 



On Sep 14, 2019, at 9:39 AM, dmargulis DMargulis@... [COLORTHEORY] <COLORTHEORY@...> wrote:

 

This month marks the 25th anniversary of a major advance in the development of our field: the release of Photoshop 3.0.

It was full of important new features but the one we remember most today was the introduction of layers. Indeed, it is hard for us to imagine life without them. Then again, it is hard to imagine life without Adjustment layers, or actions, both of which features came two years later in Photoshop 4. And how could we have worked without multiple undo, when we could cancel our last move but not get back to anything previous?. That feature, with the accompanying history palette, didn’t arrive for four more years.

The deeper significance is that Photoshop 3 resolved the question of whether the program was going to turn into a general-purpose novelty or a tool aimed at professionals. In the early 1990s serious retouching work was confined to extremely expensive workstations, such as those offered by Scitex. Adherents to these systems commonly referred to Macintoshes (there being no serious PC competition at the time) as toys. Much of this alleged advantage was brute-force computing power: a workstation that is fifty times as expensive can be expected to be perhaps twenty times as fast.

Some of it, however, was a matter of focus. At that time, the overwhelming majority of professional work was destined for CMYK—but Photoshop did not support CMYK files until version 2.5, shortly before 3.0. And then there was the performance issue: most users had only 8 megabytes (yes, MEGAbytes) of RAM. When a Photoshop calculation could not be accommodated in this tiny amount of RAM it had to be done in virtual memory, usually on a slow, fragmented small hard disk—few people had one larger than a gigabyte.

The Photoshop 3 team could have just waited for hard drives to get bigger, faster, and cheaper, which happened quickly enough. Instead, they took a move that sounds less significant than it was. They put in a requirement for 16 mb of RAM—adding several hundred dollars to the cost of a Photoshop-capable Mac. They thus kissed more than half of their potential market goodbye, in the interest of making a program more professional-friendly. In subsequent years, they would increase the minimum RAM requirement again and again.

And we were on our way. When Photoshop 3 was released few of us had enough power to be able to even consider multiple layers. By Photoshop 6, six years later, there was enough demand for the capability that the Photoshop team had to eliminate the previous limit of 99 layers on a single file.

I was writing my first book during the Photoshop 3 beta period, while doing high-quality retouching with the program at a large NYC operation that serviced Madison Avenue. You would recognize the clients and the jobs, but not the workflow. I typically was using two computers, working two jobs at a time. While one Mac was churning away at sharpening or whatever, I’d turn to the other and light off a different operation on a different job. A terrible procedure by today’s standards but the results were there. The publisher and I, searching for a title, decided on Professional Photoshop—a contradiction in terms a couple of years back.

I’ll refrain from quoting myself and instead offer an excerpt from a book that came out a couple of months before mine, Photoshop 3.0: Knock Their Socks Off! by my friend Peter Fink, who was at that time a leading expert on PostScript and halftoning.


Because each layer is an additional color image, it places significant demands on your computer system. If your image is moderately large in size and moderately high in resolution, adding numerous layers can quickly exhaust the RAM assigned to Photoshop. In response, the program begins to use your hard disk to handle the overflow, which slows down performance and increases the time it takes you to finish your work.

Also, working with layers requires a certain amount of mouse activity, which can sometimes be avoided by using simpler methods. Layers are so intuitive that you might find yourself using them for routine jobs when the same result can be achieved faster with a few simple keystrokes and a few mouse clicks.

The point of diminishing returns with layers depends on how you work and what you need to accomplish, so it’s not possible to give hard-and-fast rules. The best advice is this: Think before you automatically work with multiple layers, merge layers whenever you can, and use layers as sparingly as possible.


Of course, this advice sounds silly today, but it was eminently correct in 1994. Workflows change with the tools available.

I’ll give Peter the last word on the impact of this incredibly significant software release. Here is how he introduced the advice above. Its last phrase is worth re-reading, and is just as valid for anything written today.


A powerful creative tool requires time to absorb. As this book is written, few people have had the opportunity to work extensively with Photoshop layers, This chapter discusses concepts and practices that are evident now, with the awareness that time and experience may offer additional insights on this subject.



Dan Margulis

 

Laurentiu Todie

DIGITALIS.ART

 

 

 





Dennis Dunbar
 

Dan, 

Great post on the development of Photoshop back in the day, As a retoucher who started using Photoshop in 1990 I remember the huge advance Photoshop 3 represented. 

Interestingly at the time there were two competing programs that had the potential to knock Photoshop off it’s pedestal at the time that both had version of “Layers". Painter introduced something called Floaters, which were in essence temporary layers. I used that on some posters I worked on for Roger Corman, remembering one in particular where I had to create a reflection of a body laying on the shore of a stream. Painter was developed by the team that had created Color Studio, a program that definitely had a leg up on Photoshop in the beginning. (Letraset, the company that bought Color Studio failed to push the development and by the time the original developers got it back Photoshop had too much of a head start so they concentrated on developing a program that replicated real painting tools rather than focusing on retouching and compositing tools.)

But more revolutionary was Live Picture. This program represented a huge sea change and could have been the king of the playground if it had been properly developed in its time. Live Picture came out around 1993, in the early days you had to talk your way into behind the scenes demo rooms where Kai Krause showed amazed on lookers what this program could do. It used a hierarchical proxy system and saved the meta data for all the work done giving users unheard of speed and flexibility. It was the first program that offered true layers and 48 bit painting. The brushes worked seamlessly and quickly, one could take an 8k tall image, scale a brush to completely cover it and see the result in near real time. At the time one of the proponents for Live Picture was Tony Redhead, one of the first guys in LA who had a “Paintbox”, one of those $1million plus proprietary systems used to work on many of the top movie posters of the day. 

I recall a demo at one of the Seybold trade shows in San Francisco where Tony amazed the audience by flipping a layer in real time. At the time this would have been a very slow and difficult process in Photoshop 2.5. In the end Live Picture was killed off by John Scully, the CEO of Live Picture who decided the future lie in developing technology for the web rather than image editing programs. (Same guy who almost killed Apple a few years earlier.)

We’ve come a long way since then, and Photoshop outlasted all of it’s competitors. Still it is fun to recall the developments and number of industry revolutionizing events we’ve seen over the last 30 years, eh?

Dennis Dunbar
310-463-1677

Blog: http://dunbardigital.com/blog/

Website: http://www.dunbardigital.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DennisDunbar

Co-Author - Photoshop Restoration & Retouching - 4th Edition


Henry Davis
 

Wow. I think I still have Photoshop v1.07 floppies somewhere. When Photoshop was introduced I was making separations and shooting mechanicals on a giant DS Screen camera, stripping film on goldenrod. Scraping, opaquing, making chokes and spreads by hand and in contact frames. It’s fun sharing these memories, thanks for creating this thread down memory lane.

Looking back to that time it was easy to generate a Photoshop wish list of wanted features you hoped for in upcoming releases. Ver 3 was a biggie - it had so much to offer to someone in my part of the workflow. However, since Ver 4 and 5 it became more difficult for me to imagine much of a wish list for filling needs in my work. Even though they were moving into some potentially wonderful breakthroughs for print professionals they were at the same time creating serious problems. That was my experience. My normal, hectic workday had become a hectic and frustrating nightmare. I hadn’t all of a sudden become incompetent.

The ICC initiative was the cow that kicked over a good bucket of milk. Making it worse, it could have been avoided if those responsible had stepped up. They didn’t. Instead they stuck the little people with cobbling their train wreck into some semblance of an acceptable workflow behind the scenes. Every time a job went bad fingers pointed at the shop - not at Adobe, after all, they’re Adobe. Somebody at print shops around the world was throwing a wrench in the works - it certainly wasn’t Adobe. Well, that was then . . .

Photographers continued to build their wish list to the point that few of these improvements were of much value in my situation. I began to wonder if my anti-wish list, the things I wish they hadn’t done, had overtaken the things I wanted. I must admit that half of me can’t believe that Photoshop is still around while the other half isn’t surprised at all. They did lose me though - CS6 was the end, no CC subscription for me. CS6 had everything I needed and still does.

I guess Photoshop is still a necessity for others but of all the programs in use today I wonder which ones we could get along without if we had to. Funny, that was the same question I had when I bought my first Photoshop program. That’s still a warm and wonderful memory as were the updates - up to a point. Beyond that, doctors inventing diseases comes to mind.

Henry Davis

On Sep 14, 2019, at 12:39 PM, dmargulis DMargulis@aol.com [COLORTHEORY] <COLORTHEORY@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
<Snip>

This month marks the 25th anniversary of a major advance in the development of our field: the release of Photoshop 3.0.