Photoshop Would Like to Thank the Academy

That’s right, you read it correctly: we won an Oscar. You know the Academy Award, the iconic golden statuette, meant to honor the best filmmakers in the world? Photoshop got one of those!

Well, not exactly like that. Ours is more of a plaque or bronze tablet, awarded for technological achievements that influence the advancement of the film industry, but we’re still incredibly proud to have been recognized.

This is what ours looks like.

You may be asking, “But, why, Photoshop? Why did you win an Oscar?”

We didn’t direct a cinematic and artistic masterpiece set in 1970s Mexico City, nor did we perform a calamitous yet captivating portrayal of Queen Anne. Instead, the Scientific and Engineering Award was presented to three essential contributors to Photoshop: to brothers Thomas Knoll and John Knoll, for their “original architecture, design, and development” of Photoshop, and to Mark Hamburg “for his continued development and engineering of Adobe Photoshop.” And that’s according to the Oscars themselves.

Thomas Knoll (left), John Knoll (middle), and Mark Hamburg (right) at the Oscars.

If all the balloons and champagne weren’t festive enough, we’re taking a dive into the past to celebrate and remember where it all began.

It was the late 1980s and Thomas Knoll was hard at work on his Computer Vision Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Or was he? Instead of pulling all-nighters to complete his thesis, he was staying up into the wee hours, plugging away at this nifty little piece of software that would one-day become Photoshop.

Thomas’s brother John Knoll worked at Industrial Light & Magic and was intrigued by the early stages of his brother’s image processing software. With John’s encouragement and Thomas’s dedication to his self-described “hobby project,” Photoshop became something (sort of) resembling the software it is today, and the brothers were successfully able to sell it to Adobe Systems.

At Adobe, Mark Hamburg was the first engineer on the Photoshop team and, according to Thomas, “[Mark] is probably responsible for more lines of code in the current shipping product than anyone else, including me.”

Fast forward 30 years, and the Oscar goes to…

Along with these three men are a team of engineers, designers, and community supporters at Adobe who are integral to Photoshop’s success. Without this extraordinary team updating and improving the product, Photoshop would not be the Oscar recipient that it is today.

Of course, the Knoll brothers, Mark Hamburg, and Photoshop couldn’t have won this Academy Award were it not for all of the creative people who have used the software to bring their imaginations to life. Without talented artists and their innovative visions we know and love, Photoshop would be no more than some (well, lots of) lines of code.

Thanks to the Academy (and, of course, to Mom).

Lastly, before they play us off, we want to give a great big thanks to you…yes, you. In the words of John Knoll: “to all the Photoshop users in the world, thank you!”