Friday, February 19, 2010

20 years of Photoshop

Yep, version 1.0 of Photoshop came out 20 years ago. Obviously it was originally designed for scanned film and drawing and such and not digital cameras. It's almost synonymous with "retouching" at this point although the program does much more. I use it, although I spend much more time in its sister product, Lightroom, which was built from the ground up for photography and is much faster and workflow oriented.

I almost worked on Photoshop as a programmer. Back in the mid 90s... I think it was 1995 actually... I was working on developing test tools for screen savers at a company called Berkeley Systems (if "flying toasters" or "After Dark" rings a bell, that's them). Then I was put on the team for the next version of the product itself but the whole thing was falling apart and it seemed time to leave. I had two places I was looking at. One made pretty dull software - basically sat on top of a database and provided a nice interface and could track all kinds of process and workflow stuff. They mostly sold it to track trouble tickets but as an example it made a great bug tracker. And the other was Adobe, to work on Photoshop.

But the problem was, the Photoshop job wasn't for the main development team. It was working for the QA (Quality Assurance aka software test) team to instrument the product so they could track down bugs and crashes and memory leaks and such... because the software was already getting bloated in 1995. And the reason the QA department was making the hire was because the main developer group thought it unnecessary or was otherwise against it. So the job would have been half political - basically smoozing individual developers to devulge enough about the code to add hooks where necessary. And the other problem is it was a repeat in many ways of the job I'd just been promoted out of, and I wanted a business card that said "Software Engineer" and not "some oddball guy we tacked into the testing department because the real developers aren't being cooperative." It looked like a total train wreck and I didn't need two in a row.

So I took the more boring job, and I'm absolutely sure it was the right decision, but it would have been an interesting challenge, that's for sure.


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