Free Photoshop download from Adobe, but there’s a catch

February 15, 2013


Free Photoshop available for all

According to the Computer History Museum, Adobe has released free Photoshop software for online download, and while that sounds enticing, it is version 1.0.1 of Photoshop, originally released in 1990, and while it is the most antiquated version available, it is free.

Adobe Systems Inc. has granted the Computer History Museum permission to distribute the code with the exception of the MacApp applications library that was licensed from Apple. Adobe has collaborated with the Museum in 2010 to release a free version of MacPaint, making this their second project together.

The zip file contains 179 files, consisting of 128,000 lines of code and by line count around 75 percent of the code is in Pascal, about 15 percent is in 68000 assembler language, and the rest is various sorts of data.

The “Adobe Photoshop Macintosh version” User Guide and Tutorial have also been made available.

The source code has been made available for non-commercial use only and all a user must do is accept the terms of license.

While most will simply download the old version of Photoshop for reasons of novelty, or to experience a point of reference, although it is being promoted by some sites as a tech tool, it really is not of viable use in today’s market, which is why it is available through a history museum, so when you see tweets today urging you to download a free version of Photoshop, this is probably what you’ll end up getting.

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According to the Computer History Museum: Thomas Knoll, a PhD student in computer vision at the University of Michigan, had written a program in 1987 to display and modify digital images. His brother John, working at the movie visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, found it useful for editing photos, but it wasn’t intended to be a product.

Thomas said, “We developed it originally for our own personal use…it was a lot a fun to do.” Gradually the program, called “Display”, became more sophisticated. In the summer of 1988 they realized that it indeed could be a credible commercial product. They renamed it “Photoshop” and began to search for a company to distribute it.

About 200 copies of version 0.87 were bundled by slide scanner manufacturer Barneyscan as “Barneyscan XP”. The fate of Photoshop was sealed when Adobe, encouraged by its art director Russell Brown, decided to buy a license to distribute an enhanced version of Photoshop. The deal was finalized in April 1989, and version 1.0 started shipping early in 1990. Over the next ten years, more than 3 million copies of Photoshop were sold.

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