This Is the First Image That Was Ever Photoshopped

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 16 2014 12:09 PM

This Is the First Image That Was Ever Photoshopped

John Knoll is a pretty cool dude. He's the chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic (the visual effects company started by George Lucas and now owned as part of Lucasfilm by Disney), has worked on movies like Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Mission: Impossible, and took the first image to ever be altered with Photoshop. Which he invented with his brother. Sheesh.

Knoll took "Jennifer in Paradise" of his then-girlfriend, now wife, in 1987 as she sat on a beach in Tahiti (or perhaps Bora Bora). Meanwhile Thomas Knoll, who in the late ’80s was working on a Ph.D. in computer vision at the University of Michigan, had started developing image manipulation software that could run on a Macintosh Plus. As the Guardian reports, before seeing his brother's software, John Knoll had been captivated by the capabilities of the Pixar Image Computer, which could do basic image manipulations. But that system ran incredibly complicated software on a prohibitively expensive machine.

Advertisement

John Knoll suggested features for his brother to add to the new software, and they became co-developers on the project. But even when the software was ready to start monetizing, there weren't a lot of digital images to demonstrate it on, and Knoll ended up using a scanner at Apple's Advanced Technology Group lab to make a digital version of the only photo he had on him at the time, "Jennifer in Paradise." The brothers later used the photo to demo Photoshop for companies like, oh, you know, Adobe, or whatever.

For the 20th anniversary of Photoshop in 2010, Adobe made a video (above) of John Knoll working with "Jennifer in Paradise" on Photoshop 1.0.7. Now Photoshop is closer to its 25th birthday, but the program's backstory is just as amazing today. Plus, with vacation season underway we’re all kind of wishing we were in Tahiti right now. No wonder Photoshop got so much mileage out of one image.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.