by Martin Veitch

At 20, Photoshop is a spring chicken compared to veterans of PC era

Feb 18, 2010
Security Software

So Photoshop is 20 years old. Its menus and shortcuts appear to be an Enigma code to outsiders and it requires the sort of computer configuration usually saved for missile defence systems, but a whole generation has grown up and enjoyed gainful employment through this iconic collection of ones and zeroes.

It’s as much part of the furniture of the art desk as asymmetrical coiffures, broad-rimmed spectacles, retro T-shirts and wing mirrors on monitors. It’s made every magazine worthy of the name, enhancing a gazillion breasts and blitzing miles of cellulite flesh, pock marks and acne on celebrities; it is the veritable hearth of the modern media world.

Twenty years old. It’s the time when you’re allowed to drink (unless you’re in some medieval American state), the period of maximum going out and enjoying life. At 20 (assuming you have a twin sister on tap), you can even date and be dumped by Hugh Hefner. But when you’re looking down from the bullet-marked parapets of what is vaguely referred to as middle age, 20 is really no age at all. And compared to some PC applications, Photoshop is just the kid bro or sis of software. You might say that if software applications were celebrities, Photoshop would be Daniel Radcliffe.

Here’s a bunch that can give a few years to the Adobe goldmine.

Microsoft Word.The wordprocessing software is still turning in buckets of cash for its masters but started out as Multi-Tool Word for Xenix back in 1983, making it 27 years old, a totemic age for rock stars: too many of them died without going any further down life’s long and winding road. It’s time for this software legend to spend more time at home with the wife and kids because if Microsoft Word were a celebrity it would be Jimi Hendrix. Or Brian Jones. Or Janis Joplin. Or Kurt Cobain. Or Jim Morrison. By the way, 1983 was also a totemic year for PC software too with Lotus 1-2-3 and Borland Sidekick among notable births. Spooky.

WordPerfect. Once the guarantee of a life passed in the placid waters of the legal practice typing pool, WordPerfect has been taking things a little easier recently but is still around and owned by Corel. Originally built for Data General computers, god rest their souls, WordPerfect is (life begins at) 30. That’s the same as Michael Owen (I saw his debut against Wimbledon about five minutes ago it seems), Jenson Button and Christina Ricci.

Microsoft Excel. Known as the dynamo behind some of Man’s most miserable hours on Windows, it’s often forgotten that the world’s most popular (sic) spreadsheet was built for the Mac back in 1985, making it 25. But Excel is still going strong and is the same age as relatively fresh faces such as Prince Harry, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne. It just feels a lot older.

dBase. Still being developed, the former Ashton-Tate than Borland database that stored the world’s information through the 1980s and early 1990s was, like no-longer-with-us wordprocessor WordStar, born in 1978, making it 32 years of age, a duff year for celebrities unless you include Aston Kutcher and Liv Tyler.