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Original Photoshop code now available free from Computer History Museum


Photoshop, the program that launched a million images of improbable situations – and has its own verb – was first released by Adobe back in 1990. Though the photo-editing software can cost upwards of $1,000 today, you can try out the original, bare-bones version gratis. Though we doubt you’ll be able to do much with the outdated software, according to PCWorld, the Computer History Museum is honoring the software’s humble, Macintosh-only beginning by releasing the original source code for Photoshop 1.0.1 for free – and noncommercial use only, of course.

Photoshop’s roots date back to the late 1980s when it was written by Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, and his brother, John, who worked at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic. Together, they developed it into a consumer-friendly application and the first iteration of it was bundled with a slide scanner called the Barneyscan. It was christened Barneyscan XP even though it had nothing to do with Barney Rubble and didn’t run on Windows XP. No wonder it only sold about 200 copies. Still, it was enough for Adobe to take notice, license the rights from the Knoll brothers, and release Photoshop 1.0.

The original code for Photoshop is made up of 179 files and about 128,000 lines of code. Roughly 75 percent of the code is written in Pascal, 15 percent is written in code specific to the Motorola 68000 processor that powered the original Macintoshes, and the remaining 10 percent is in other bits of code. By comparison, today’s Photoshop has over 10 million lines of code.


While the Computer History Museum has most of the code for Photoshop 1.0.1 available, it is missing the MacApp framework that was licensed from Apple. Unless you’ve got an original Macintosh hanging out in your basement, we’re guessing that most people aren’t going to be downloading the code to compile and run Photoshop, but more to learn about how simple lines of code can create such an iconic program.

Download the code for Photoshop 1.0.1 from the Computer History Museum, or check out the museum for yourself in none other than Silicon Valley’s mecca, Mountain View, California. 

Images via KnowYourMeme and creativebits

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