Source Code for Original 1990 Version of Adobe Photoshop Released


Starting today, you can download a free and legal copy of Photoshop. That’s right — free and legal. There’s a catch, though: it’s the original 1.0.1 version of the program that was released back in 1990.

The Computer History Museum released the source code today, and writes,

With the permission of Adobe Systems Inc., the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use, the source code to the 1990 version 1.0.1 of Photoshop. All the code is here with the exception of the MacApp applications library that was licensed from Apple. There are 179 files in the zipped folder, comprising about 128,000 lines of mostly uncommented but well-structured code. By line count, about 75% of the code is in Pascal, about 15% is in 68000 assembler language, and the rest is data of various sorts.

The nearly 130,000 lines of code were written primarily by a single person: Photoshop co-founder Thomas Knoll. Knoll was the only engineer for the first version of the software. When version two rolled around, they added a second programmer.

Thomas, a computer vision PhD student at the University of Michigan, and his brother John, an Industrial Light & Magic employee, had originally created the program for personal use. Originally called “Display,” the program was eventually renamed to “Photoshop” and then later licensed to Adobe in 1989. The first version would ship the next year.

Here are some screenshots of the program as it looked at the time, courtesy of creativebits:






You can find the download here, the User Guide here, and a tutorial on the original Photoshop here.

Adobe Photoshop Source Code [Computer History Museum via Engadget]

  • Theodore P Rysz III

    Throw back to the early nineties. I love it. Back to the time when you couldn’t manipulate the crap out of a photo.


    Bet that runs fast now!

  • David Thunander

    My first version was 4.0

  • p.rock

    Australian version costs $1400.

  • BGlover

    Sweet! Vintage Photoshop will make the hipsters quite happy.

  • Igor Ken


  • Igor Ken

    #throwbackthursday ?

  • Bsa

    Filter menu hasen’t changed much since:)

  • QuentinUK

    I hope it compiles on a new computer because the new version is quite expensive.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    So gorgeous!

  • Mark Dub

    I’ve already started work on making a Lo-Fi filter for this version :)

  • Nathan Blaney

    Looks very, very familiar! Started working with PS regularly in version 2.0 and have owned every version since 4.0.

  • Dave

    You could ALWAYS manipulate the crap out of a photo. It all depended on your darkroom skills.

  • JohnDoey

    There is no such thing as an unmanipulated photo. Every step of the production process is a manipulation, whether chemical or digital.

  • JohnDoey

    The computer museum already released the source to MacPaint, upon which Photoshop is based. This is a really nice addition.

  • JohnDoey

    Everything in this version was already lo-fi. The screens had 512 1-bit pixels. Today’s Mac icons all by themselves are 4x that size and of course are full color.

  • Amadeusz Leonardo Juskowiak

    But PS, even back then, operated on RGB colors…

  • sdfs

    fly to US to download it free. free trip right there

  • Mike Sivčević

    This was when they treated their customers with respect, now they’re pissing all over them/us, especially here in Australia. To hell with Adobe, I hope they end up like Kodak.

  • Amir Asyraf

    20 more years and I’ll own the Photoshop CS6 for free…

  • Jeff Golenski

    Well it’s still better than MS Paint – and that’s what I’ve been using to design all my websites, sooooo YYESSSSSS!!!

  • Neoracer Xox

    Is it part of the ‘Creative Cloud’? Otherwise I’ll pass

  • Benoît

    Que de souvenirs !

  • Theodore P Rysz III

    @Dover61:disqus @twitter-52439596:disqus @JohnDoey:disqus You guys have all spoken the truth on this one.

  • Craig

    I know this is belated, but must comment.
    I don’t think Photoshop is based on MacPaint. MacPaint was an Apple development, PS an Adobe product, plus John Knoll wrote most of it.