Photoshop version 3.0 was the version that introduced me to Photoshop. It came out at the end of 1994, and I discovered it the following year while in college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it at the time, but it was still amazing. I’d never seen anything like it, and I wanted to learn all about what it was and what it could do.
I saw an image scroll up my Facebook feed today that Adobe posted way back in 2013. It was the picture below, with the note that the version of Photoshop CC available at the time would require 733 floppy discs. Today it would probably be closer to 2,000. But how does Photoshop 3.0 stack up against its future selves?
Photoshop 3.0 was the last version of Photoshop to be sold on the floppy disc. If Photoshop were sold on floppy discs today, it would need to be installed with 733 discs!#throwbackthursday #TBT
When I got Photoshop 3.0, it was a heavily discounted educational license through college. It came on a stack of several floppy discs and once installed on my PC, it was glorious. It flew on my beasty 486 DX2/66 with its 8MB RAM.
Today, the system requirements for 64Bit Photoshop CC 2017 state the need for 3.1GB of space. That means it would require anywhere up to around 2200 3.5″ floppy discs. On CD-ROMs, you’d only need half a dozen, or it could all still fit nicely on a DVD.
It’s incredible just how far along the software has come in that time. Photoshop 3.0 (1994) was probably the first massively impactful version of Photoshop, as it introduced layers. A fundamental tool for digital artists everywhere. Many traditional artists and animators had been used to this for decades in the form of acetate sheets.
- Photoshop 4 (1996) brought adjustment layers, “Actions” (macros), grids and guides, the free transform tool, and multicolour gradients. Distributed on CD-ROM, baby!
- Photoshop 5 (1998) added multiple levels of undo (THANK YOU!), better colour management now that digital photography was starting to become a thing.
- Photoshop 5.5 (1999) introduced the “Save for Web” dialogue, when most of us who even had Internet were still on dialup and needed to save as much bandwidth as possible.
- Photoshop 6.0 (2000) gave us that tool you love-to-hate, Liquify.
Photoshop 6.0 was the version I was still using in 2002 when I picked up my first pair of Nikon D100 bodies. It had no native support for Nikon’s NEF raw files at all. Everything had to be brought in by a proprietary Nikon plugin. It was painful, but it worked.
- Photoshop 7.0 (2002) gave us the healing brush, text became fully vectorised, and the 7.0.1 update gave us the optional plugin “Camera RAW 1.x”
- Photoshop CS (2003) made Camera RAW 2.x a mandatory part of the installation. We got the Shadow/Highlight dialogue, match colour, lens blur filter, a real-time histogram, 16Bit per channel layers, and support for files larger than 2GB.
Photoshop CS also introduced some basic copy protection. It detected and refused to print scanned images of various bank notes from around the world.
- Photoshop CS2 (2005) brought a fantastic feature for me. Smart Objects. Besides layers, these are probably my favourite feature of Photoshop. We got the lens correction filter, smart sharpen, spot healing brush and 32Bit HDRI support (a big deal for me at the time as I was doing a lot of 3D work).
- Photoshop CS3 (2007) had a revised user interface, a drastically updated Camera RAW, quick select tool, auto aligning and blending. Smart Objects gained Smart Filters. There were many alterations to adjustment layers, too, including Curves, Channel Mixer and Brightness and Contrast.
- Photoshop CS4 (2008) came with many UI and performance improvements. Native support for 64Bit on Windows, OpenGL display acceleration, smoother panning and zooming with fluid canvas rotation. This was where we also begun to see “Content-aware” features, with the Content Aware Scale.
- Photoshop CS5 (2010) – Content Aware Fill (although many of us called it Content Aware Fail at the time). The release of feature was almost as controversial as the liquify tool, although it turned out to be nowhere near as good as many of us had been led to believe. A 64Bit version of Photoshop was now available for the Mac. We got automatic lens correction, and “grain” control in Camera RAW.
The CS5.1 update that came out the following year introduced the subscription model pricing. This was the beginning of the end for many existing users. But also the start of something wonderful for those that would never have become Photoshop users in the first place.
- Photoshop CS6 (2012) came with Camera RAW 7.0, and today the final release that is compatible with CS6 is Camera Raw 9.1.1. It had another big user interface overhaul. Automatic and background saves of your files were now a thing. Content Aware Patch and Move tools were added. Colour Range offered skin tone and facial detection. There was a greater support for video, along with 3DLUT adjustments. The 3D user interface was also completely redesigned to be easier to use.
Photoshop CS6 was the final version of Photoshop for which you could buy a perpetual license outright. It was also the final version to be sold on physical media.
Photoshop CC – 2013+
Since switching over to the cloud subscription model, Photoshop has seen many significant feature additions. Camera Shake Reduction, Intelligent Upsampling, Camera RAW as a filter to name just three that came with the first release. Then Smart Objects got a significant upgrade with Linked Smart Objects. Now you could reference external files. Fantastic for collaborations. 3D printing support was added, and the Mercury Graphics Engine support was expanded. stacking layer styles and so much more.
If Adobe had stuck with its original naming convention, we’d be on version 18.1.1 right now.
Things sure have come a very long way. It’s hard to remember now just how incredibly advanced Photoshop 3.0 seemed at the time.
What’s been your favourite feature or addition to Photoshop over the years?