December 23, 2012

Celebrating Illustrator through an iPad pub

Remember when Adobe was a hardware company, making software only to sell printers & peripherals? Okay, that imagined future never came to be (despite being the founders’ original business plan), but the company was, for its first five years, all about PostScript. Illustrator marked a big departure—into the creation of application software (crazy talk!).

To celebrate Illustrator’s 25th (!) birthday, Adobe’s Ton Frederiks & his brother Hans have put together a free iPad app that tells the story of AI’s early years. They write,

Adobe Illustrator shipped on March 19, 1987. It was Adobe’s first software application based on Adobe PostScript, the technology that changed the entire publishing industry. Illustrator not only altered Adobe’s course dramatically, it changed drawing and line art forever.

For a lot of the current users of Illustrator it’s hard to imagine the impact that Illustrator made in a world where designs and illustrations were done manually.

With the app ‘Adobe Illustrator, the early years’ we want to give some insight into the early years of Illustrator and celebrate the creative freedom that Illustrator brought to designers and illustrators.

Related: Here’s the video demonstration that co-founder/CEO John Warnock shot & included on VHS with every copy of the product.

Posted by John Nack at 8:09 AM on December 23, 2012


  • RK — 10:07 AM on December 23, 2012

    I love that old video. I like when he adds “color” to the flower at the end on that black and white (green) screen, haha. I don’t think there is even a layers panel on that first version.

  • Rod Wynne-Powell — 5:19 PM on December 23, 2012

    If you’re speaking to Ton, he may just remember me; he was one of the very first people I spoke to regarding beta Photoshop software, so he has a lot to answer for!

    It was around the time of Barneyscan b0.95 which was demonstrated to me (though not by Ton), and then completely expunged from my Mac IIfx. I actually did a montage before layers!

    At that time I was also a tester of the long-forgotten Colorstudio from Letraset where I was doing work for Sue Thexton in analogue days.

    Happy days! Anyway, give him best wishes.


  • Andrew Meit — 10:06 AM on December 24, 2012

    Its a truism about history: the victors write the history of the conquered. Freehand has an important place and role in history of digital art tools. Me and so many others gave so much to Freehand; some of its coders now work or did work at Adobe. Freehand on more than one occusaion raised the bar for Illustrator to strive reach for. ;-)

    [True enough! –J.]

  • John Balestrieri — 8:45 PM on December 25, 2012

    This really takes me back to using Illustrator 88 on a Mac Plus. I still remember how unintuitive it was to learn how to edit Bézier curves for the first time. Bézier editing hasn’t come a long way since then. :|

  • Barney Walters — 2:27 PM on December 26, 2012

    Certainly a blast from the past.

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