23 Feb The first Photoshop icon.
Category: Design, Icon Design

While I was doing some research for one of my upcoming projects today, I found the very first Photoshop icon. It’s actually a tiny little photo shop! I love it, and if I have some free time I’ll see if I can recreate it in a more modern style.


What particularly strikes me is that they’ve gone through great lengths to let anyone be able to determine what it is; the ‘1HR’ signage obviously indicates the ‘photo’ part in ‘Photoshop’ and the man with the teller is the ‘shop’ part. Very, very cool.

Edit: Addendum with the History of Photoshop, and color versions of these pre-Photoshop 1.0 icons. Be sure to check out John Knoll’s response in the comments down here.


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72 Responses

  1. 1

    Oh, just to clarify, I migrated them over 1st from my PowerBook G4 to my MacBook Pro using the migration assistant, and then from my MacBook Pro to my Mac Pro using migration assistant migrate from Time Machine drive… So I have not tried to install either on the machine – but they are clearly NOT classic apps but rather Carbon apps, which is I think what you were trying to say :)

  2. 2
    David Mills 

    You dinks that don’t know what 1-hr photo shops were are obviously way to young to be taken seriously. Come back when you’re grown.

  3. 3


    At the time the original PS icon was designed, there were not only technical limitations on icon design to contend with.

    We may look back at a 32×32 black and white icon and think “I could have done better given the same restrictions”, but there are other things you need to think about.

    We’re all looking back after nearly twenty years of evolution in icon design. Over the last two decades there have been a lot of conventions established about how icons should look (applications should look like applications, documents should look like documents, etc). There have also been a lot of advances in methods of representing ideas in the form of icons, all of which we now take for granted.

    Give the old PS icon a break. It does its job, and compared to other application icons of its time, it does it very well.

  4. 4

    Well, I gave it a shot.


  5. 5

    Any chance of compiling some sort of evolutionary chart of the Photoshop icon?

  6. 6


    Dude, you really need to READ the comments instead of just spouting gibberish – greg links to it in his comment: http://www.guidebookgallery.org/apps/photoshop

  7. 7

    Lachlan – I gotta say – first thing I though when I saw that was “cool”… I even uttered the word under my breath!

    Why does everybody hate on the new logo? I love it – love the minimalism – love seeing it on my dock – love how the Adobe product icons all work together visually.

    But hey, I liked the CS1 icons, and I liked the PS 7 icon – but things get old – and you have to move forward – a couple of years time people will say the current icon looks ancient – and when they produce a new one there will probably be people bemoaning the change – saying this was the best ever icon, bring it back.

  8. Brett Wickens designed the Adobe CS & CS2 boxes/icons. For a great interview on the BeADesigncast about them, go to http://www.beadesigngroup.com/blog/archives/2008/01/be_a_design_cast_49_brett_wick.php

    He discusses some of the methodology behind the CS & CS2 designs — very interesting!!

  9. 9
    Thomas Knoll 

    Yes, these are real.

    It is kind of funny that Adobe Photoshop help kill off the drive-through photo shop that inspired its first icon.

    I still really like the original plug-in icon, BTW.

  10. « I still really like the original plug-in icon, BTW. »

    Is that an E for Escher?

  11. 11

    > It is kind of funny that Adobe Photoshop help kill
    > off the drive-through photo shop that inspired its
    > first icon.
    How did Adobe help kill them off? Adobe didn’t run competing stores and they didn’t invent the instant/digital cameras.

    I still see 1hr photo places all the time, just not as booths, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Ritz, etc…

  12. 12

    I thought the 1hr reffered to the time it took to apply any filters with the slow computer we had back then!

  13. Ah, memories. I still think the plug-ins icon is one of the most brilliant software icons I’ve ever used.

    And as for folks getting negative on these icons: remember, there’s nothing more boring than an icon snob. Well, except for a font snob.

  14. 14

    I think the cs3 icon is brilliant. Ps – so functional when it comes to tutorials and such on the web.

  15. 15

    “i don’t understand why it’s culturally limited? were there not 1-hr photo booths outside the US? did photos take longer than an hour to develop in other countries? is “hour” abbreviated differently in other english speaking countries, or is it because it’s english? ”

    Yes you moron, “hour” is an English word and there are other languages. Amazing, isn’t it?

  16. 16
    SEO Texter 

    Great piece of history. Thanks for your sharing…!

  17. 17
    SEO Texter 

    This icon looks classier than the new one. The icon is simple and elegant. Old is better than new…

  18. 18

    I use version 7 on my MacBook with Tiger, but it crashes a LOT. Anyway, I like this icon. I’m surprised that others don’t. At the very least, it’s miles ahead of the current icons, which are a joke.

  19. 19

    Thank you for this little gem of computer history.

  20. I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

  21. Great find, and even greater that John Knoll AND Thomas Knoll commented on this blog post. Bow down, now, people!

  22. 22
    Bradley Dichter 

    To John and Thomas Knoll: Despite the official Adobe CS5 icons, I’d love to see a memorial effort on a modern 512×512 pixel color photo booth retro icon we could replace our Photoshop CS5 with. With that resolution, you could put yourself in the window. Found this: