It’s hard to believe, but Photoshop is nearly 20 years old. The original Apple Macintosh version was written in 1988 by brothers Thomas and John Knoll. The first full version published by Adobe appeared on the Macintosh in 1990. The entire program came on a single 1.44MB floppy disk.
Photoshop has grown and changed over the years, but has always incorporated the latest developments, reinforcing its position as the industry standard for professional image editing. The first Windows version (v2.5) appeared in 1992, layers were introduced in version 3.0 in 1994, multiple undo history in version 5.0 in 1998, and camera RAW support was added with version 7.0 in 2002. The concept of Creative Suite, incorporating and harmonising a whole range of Adobe’s other programs, including ImageReady, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, Encore and AfterEffects, was introduced in 2003 along with Photoshop 8.0, known as Photoshop CS. An update, unsurprisingly called Photoshop CS2, came along less than two years later in April 2005, adding many new features such as Smart Objects, a red-eye tool and the invaluable Spot Healing brush.
Here we are now in May 2007, and it’s update time again. This time it’s Photoshop CS3, significantly the tenth version of the program, and the most ambitious to date. It’s also somewhat larger than that original version 1.0, since it comes on a DVD and requires 1.5GB of disk space for installation. Version 10.0 improves many existing features, adds some surprising new ones, and also greatly improves the appearance of the user interface, something which has needed doing since version 7.0. Photoshop is launched along with the rest of the newly revamped Creative Suite 3, but is of course available as a stand-alone program.
Please note that this review is based on, and the screenshots are taken from, the Windows XP PC version of the program.
Price and suitability
Since its earliest days, Photoshop has been preferred by and developed for imaging professionals, including photographers, artists and designers. It isn’t intended for amateur home users, and people just looking for an easy way to resize and brighten up a few snapshots would be much better off looking elsewhere. Photoshop is priced to reflect this. The Windows version of Photoshop CS3 costs around £500 or more, while the premium CS3 Extended version, which includes the ability to work with video and 3D content, costs a hefty £800, and those prices are from discounted online retailers, the list price for CS3 Extended is a wallet-crushing £1,150.
Even upgrading from earlier versions is expensive, with the CS3 upgrade pack (which will upgrade from Photoshop 7.0, CS or CS2) costing around £160 and the CS3 Extended Upgrade pack costing £390. However since it is still possible to buy CS2 for around £285, this is actually a cheaper alternative to buying the full product. Another alternative is the Student Edition, costing around £140, although this requires proof that you really are a student and cannot be used for commercial purposes.