Adobe Creative Cloud

March 1, 2017 /

Happy Birthday, Illustrator!

1987 ushered in a new era of digital publishing and design. A then little-known design tool called Adobe Illustrator transformed graphic design by letting creatives create and publish vector artwork. Today, more than 180 million graphics are created with Illustrator CC on a monthly basis. Its output is everywhere, from the billboards you pass on the highway to the packages you see at the grocery. But Illustrator CC wouldn’t be here today, celebrating its 30th birthday, if it weren’t for our users.


“Everybody said, ‘You’re going to ruin good design because now anybody can do it.’ But with Illustrator, the cream rises to the top,” says John Warnock, Adobe co-founder. “The creativity is in the design. The creativity is the person who uses the tools.”

Thirty years ago, Illustrator gave creatives the freedom to create digital artwork that is precise, perfect, and adjustable. Over the years, it has continued to make graphic design accessible to all. The introduction of Artboards allowed creatives the flexibility to adapt designs to different sizes for print or screen. Live Corners and Live Shapes gave creatives the ability to manipulate width, height, and corner radius properties directly on the objects themselves.

Adobe Illustrator toolbars from 1987 to present

However, some of the most impactful changes over the years have been under the hood to fulfill our users’ requests. The 64-bit migration and GPU rendering, for example, increased the speed of rendering for users almost tenfold.

The entire history of Illustrator has been defined by our users. Through our forums, events, and focus groups, we obsess over the next thing our users need to create their best work. Here’s what we’ve heard:

The future is multi-channel, multi-screen
Consumers today access content across different devices, mediums, and content platforms. Users have asked for an efficient way create assets across this diverse spectrum. So last year, we built Export for Screens, allowing creatives to save and export graphics in multiple sizes and formats with just one step.

Empowering web and experiential design
Our users need tools to design not only for print, but also for a web that is increasingly multi-screen. The ability to scale web images across multiple devices is critical. That’s why Adobe became an early developer of Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG) for the web.

More recently, we’ve heard from users about the need to quickly create and prototype digital experiences. This is what’s driving us to build Adobe XD, a tool in which you can design, prototype, and share. All in one app. 

Collaboration and mobility in the cloud
And lastly, our users have expressed a few pain points in their workflows. Sharing and maintaining common assets like graphics, colors, character styles, and style guides would often involve long email chains or constant version control on a network drive. Over the years, our team has dedicated significant resources and time to thoughtfully build out Illustrator’s integration with the Creative Cloud. Today, creatives using Illustrator CC have an unparalleled ability to share, edit, and collaborate with their teams through the Creative Cloud.

Illustrator has come a long way since it made its public debut 30 years ago. It continues to be perfected based on your feedback. What do you hope to see next in Illustrator CC?

Tell us here.


Join the discussion

  • By PasteInside - 10:41 AM on March 1, 2017  


    • By Sonny Moon - 11:11 AM on March 1, 2017  

      Yup, FreeHand was always the better vector-creation app, no question.

    • By TextOnCircle - 12:30 PM on March 1, 2017  

      Yeah!! Bring back FreeHand!!

      • By Ruben Hernandez - 4:37 PM on March 1, 2017  


        • By Mick - 11:22 PM on March 5, 2017  

          Viva The FreeHand Rebel Alliance!!

        • By John Nack - 11:12 AM on March 6, 2017  

          I wish you guys would specify *what* you want changed in Illustrator to make it better vis-a-vis FreeHand. That would be interesting & useful to the team. Nothing else is actionable.

          • By PasteInside - 1:35 AM on March 8, 2017  

            Does Illustrator know the word “intuitive”?

          • By Whoop John - 3:12 AM on March 12, 2017  

            For a start Illustrator could introduce the third point type, the connector point, where a curve meets a straight line. This would be a major improvement.

          • By Bill - 9:54 AM on March 12, 2017  

            For example, take the Freehand feature called “Punch.” I never had an issue with taking a shape and punching it out of any background shape. You got a hole punched in whatever you wanted. In Illustrator, I’m never sure what I’m going to get when I use “Subtract.” Sometimes the shapes are merged into one; sometimes it “punches” somewhat as expected; other times it won’t work. With Illustrator, the function changes depending on the type of object you’re attempting to punch a hole in. Why can’t there be a single command in Illustrator that just punches a hole in whatever you need a hole punch into, no conditionals? That’s just one, frequently frustrating example. … Freehand was logical and intuitive; Illustrator seems anything but. (Don’t even get me started on why there have to be separate selection tools in Illustrator when Freehand’s selection method worked so intuitively.)

          • By Freehand! - 8:11 AM on March 17, 2017  

            Customize with simple icons of all commands without having to use the panels as in freehand…

    • By Cheryl - 4:15 PM on March 5, 2017  

      Freehand FTW!
      Now Illustrator won’t even open FH files, which is childish BS. :/

      • By John Nack - 11:13 AM on March 6, 2017  

        “Childish” seems unlikely. Maybe the team saw that, statistically, the rate of opening FH files was incredibly low, and the cost of maintaining/evolving the code was very high. (I’m just speculating, but in my experience childishness has little to do with most decisions.)

  • By Sameer - 2:42 PM on March 1, 2017  

    Happy Illustrator day!!

  • By Mosharaf Hossain - 8:00 PM on March 1, 2017  

    Thank you Illustrator.

  • By sameer - 11:11 PM on March 1, 2017  

    Dear Sir
    how me can make a shortcut for align a object with keyboard like Craldraw

    Best Regards

  • By Deena Elliott - 1:29 AM on March 2, 2017  

    Super cool… Happy Birthday Illustrator!

  • By Shakeel - 5:03 AM on March 2, 2017  

    Congratulation all team of Illustrator

  • By Shakeel - 5:05 AM on March 2, 2017  

    Congratulation all team of Illustrator good going.

  • By Linda - 5:14 AM on March 2, 2017  

    I still have version 1.1 which is on a floppy drive. I cannot believe we are that old! It has been fun.

    • By Andrea - 10:20 AM on March 26, 2017  

      Same. My grandma was an art teacher and brought home our apple IIc in 1984. As young children we used Color Me and Dazzle Draw before Illustrator. When the house sold this year I was surprised to find that all those guidebooks and discs had been shelved in her computer room for decades. Unsure what to do with them now. Keep them preserved on my shelf I guess.

  • By Mark - 8:31 AM on March 2, 2017  

    This has made me feel old, but this has reminded me what a revolution it was when I first got Illustrator 88′.

  • By Shehroz bunny khan - 1:54 PM on March 2, 2017  

    First of congratulation to all illustrator’s
    And best wishes for makeing a cavity world my comment as a communication designer we make a new tool for editing picture in illustrator cc because when I make any design for magazine and any picture and vector file I need Photoshop for editing its a Long process so please make a new tool for editing in illustrator cc just like a Photoshop+illustrator software.

  • By Bijutoha - 10:33 PM on March 2, 2017  

    Happy birthday to the most creative tool on earth!

  • By kate - 10:42 PM on March 2, 2017  

    I’m so glad that I can wish you a happy day, Illustrator!

  • By Bill Murphy - 5:28 AM on March 3, 2017  

    I love you Adobe Illustrator. I love your growth of features over the years for creatives. Respectfully you needs to tweak and grow to continually better those features. I’m looking forward to tweaking and growing my creative along with you. Looking forward to refinements and new exciting features. Happy Birthday Illustrator. I love many CC applications, but Illustrator you’re my favourite.

  • By Bill Murphy - 5:30 AM on March 3, 2017  

    Thank you, to the Adobe Illustrator team now and over the years past.

  • By Junior tomlin - 11:48 PM on March 4, 2017  

    I love illustrator I have been using from the beginning, being a design illustrator I use it in the majority of my design and illustration work and my aim is always to push the boundaries of the art of vector graphics. I also been teaching advance techniques for years .

  • By Junior tomlin - 12:07 AM on March 5, 2017  

    Too the adobe illustrator team I would like to work with you in creating some tools to aid traditional artists

  • By Abhinav Krishna - 9:26 PM on March 6, 2017  

    Happy birthday Illustrator, Best of the lot.Great job guys

  • By ferdi - 8:07 AM on March 7, 2017  

    2005 is the best! Fast and simple. The best designers do not need too many tools for a perfect design.
    The newer versions are worse, very slow and very complicated. I would like to sell my life to go back to this version! Photoshop is much better in newer versions instead.
    Happy birthday, anyway…

  • By Derek - 3:33 AM on March 10, 2017  

    I take it all the FreeHand aficionados loved the random spacing introduced w hen u si ng ty p e!
    I used Illustrator 88 at college then had to use FreeHand v2/v3 at work before persuadeing boss to switch to Illustrator.

    • By Whoop John - 3:07 AM on March 12, 2017  

      I don’t get random type spacing in Freehand

  • By Christopher - 4:31 PM on March 11, 2017  

    If I recall correct I dabbled with Illustrator in 1998, then left then came back in 2003, mostly simple shapes, and text is all I did at the time for some projects. This program can grow on you, takes time but if you allow it.

  • By Whoop John - 3:05 AM on March 12, 2017  

    Bring back Freehand. Illustrator is unintuitive bloatware.

  • By Robert Waarde - 9:19 AM on March 12, 2017  

    I’m still using CS4 from 2008.
    All I wanted from newer versions was the perspective tool. But that didn’t warrant the upgrade price. Sometimes a company overdeliveres. CS4 is one of them. I love CS4.
    Sorry Adobe. 😉

  • By TM - 9:28 AM on March 12, 2017  

    In the complete history of the graphic Industry, Adobe will always be recognized as an important player and game changer. However, several years ago, true innovation was swapped by corporate greed when introducing the cloud model, taking users hostage and squeezing small independent designers for their last hard earned money. Overnight they went from an innovator to a bully. And designers had no choice, until now. Several free and/or cheap alternatives are available. Please buy and use software from small vendors like Affinity. Do not be part of the problem, but of the solution.

  • By sandeep lande - 1:35 AM on March 13, 2017  

    Happy birthday Ai

  • By Paul - 1:09 PM on March 14, 2017  

    I see the Chart tool was added in 1990. Too bad its functionality hasn’t changed since then. Please fix this. An overhaul is long over due. And those of us working in financial services would love an improved tool. Thanks.

  • By cpv - 7:49 AM on March 17, 2017  

    Affinity will avenge Freehand!

  • By gulsen goksel - 11:54 AM on March 19, 2017  

    I hate to say, I hate every minute while I’m using AI. I missed still FreeHand. Freehand was so easy like mind as a designer. Now the menus and toolbox are overloaded that even when passing through art board style it needs effort takes time. And also its so difficult to use guides to give order than make them live. lots of difficulties take my time when i need to create illustration or sketch or drawing. the structure of this gramme still looks like a software engineer written not for designer. every step to stable with typing numbers are killing our passionate and decrease my flawlessness of creativity. sorry guys i cannot celebrate your anniversary.

  • By kalyan das - 6:34 AM on March 29, 2017  


  • By mark - 8:43 AM on March 29, 2017  

    3 Decades and you still can’t right click copy cut or paste…lame lame lame and the beat goes on

  • By mark - 8:45 AM on March 29, 2017  

    Wayne Hoang

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    San Francisco Bay Area




    Castlight Health, AT&T


    University of California, Berkeley


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