Apr 1, 2005

The Photoshop Widows Club

I do many things, and I learn quickly, but writing has never been a strong suit of mine. I hope you will bear with me while my learning curve grows. Telling tall tales is my strong suit–especially when the tale is true. Given who I am, I know many true tall tales.

Early on when Photoshop was the hot news in its new shrink-wrapped box sitting on the shelf in the computer software store, I’d ask clerks to recommend a “graphics software package”. The answer was always Photoshop.

The Photoshop 1 box.

Being from Ann Arbor, I’d then ask the unsuspecting sales techie: “What was the story behind the development of Photoshop?” I’d get stories you wouldn’t believe. Then I’d ask: “Now do you want to know the real story?”

The answer was always an eager, “Yes!”

I would answer that it was developed and written in my living room by my graduate student husband with our cat sitting on his chest. Uniformly, the look of “you’ve got to be kidding” would cover their faces. You see how a wonderfully unbelievable tall tale can also be the absolute truth.

Thomas and the “Consultants”.

I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Ruth Summers Knoll, wife of Thomas Knoll, original author of Photoshop 1.0 and I believe, 2.0–although I think that Mark Hamburg might have had a line or two in that version.

Memory. . .well, everyone knows it’s corruptible.

Yes, Photoshop 1.0 was developed in our third-foor, walk-up, graduate student, two bedroom, two bath, apartment. . .complete with storage cabinet in the second bath tub, computers and crafts in the second bedroom. . .plastic over the windows to keep out the cold, and a baby travel crib sandwiched between the bed and the wall in our bedroom.

Needless to say, Photoshop has since changed our lives, however, I do many of the same things moms do all over the world.
I gave birth to two children:

Hannah &                                 Andrew

Have a dog:


Built a modest home:

Worked closely with a school:

Summers-Knoll School

Put together charitable fund raising events:

Photoshop Soup 2 Nuts 2.0

And made the occasional public appearance:

You see, just normal everyday average stuff most wives and moms do all the time.

But, I also consider myself the original Photoshop Widow.

You’ve heard of hunting widows, golf widows, football widows and the like. Photoshop started a whole new category for us–the Photoshop Widow. Photoshop started more than just a new way of manipulating photons. Photoshop is another obsession for the obsessive husband. With infinite ways to use it, infinite ways to improve it and infinite ways to talk about it, and since everyone the world over knows about it, there is no foreseeable end of the ways to obsess about it. So what does that leave for the Photoshop Widow? There was no support group in the beginning. Most folks had not even heard of this new piece of software. Try explaining manipulating pictures on a computer. Keep in mind that was back when 5.5″ floppies were common and the 3.5″ hard floppy was the cutting edge of mountable storage.

I was a real conversation stopper.

Photoshop Widows need something to do to vent all our bottled-up energy. I suppose I could have joined a book club. To tell the truth, I never even thought of that. I did try to form a mom-and-tots group at church, but all the moms were busy doing other things and could not grasp the concept of Barneyscan-it’s this software my husband is writing.

Isn’t Barneyscan a:
purple-friendship-singing-dancing-over-hyped-sappy-sweet dinosaur?

What does that have to do with software?

Well, at that time I did not know much more about Barneyscan. With no devices to take a digital picture, no devices to print a digital picture and no real market for it, my husband’s obsession had the appearance of merely being a passing fad. An amusing side track to the serious stuff.

He was really working on his PhD. . .
and graduation was just around the corner, right??

Well….. 15 years later, 10 major releases and uncountable minor releases, he’s still obsessing about Photoshop. The industry has finally caught up with him. There are many ways of capturing a digital picture and many ways of getting the digital picture onto something tangible. With all the new cameras and printers, there are even more ways to obsess about Photoshop. Now he obsesses over Camera Raw.

However, now I at least have a quickly growing support group. . .
The Photoshop Widows Club

Stay tuned for more stories from Ruth. . .
and some of the others in the Photoshop Widows Club.

4 Responses to “The Photoshop Widows Club”

  1. Geofred Osoro Says:

    It is a great breakthrough.

  2. Rex Enoch Says:

    Why have I never heard this story before??

  3. Ruth Knoll Says:

    Don’t know. Have you seen the other two?


  4. Becke Corkern Says:

    Hi Ruth….I have a copy of Photoshop and am waiting for inspiration to learn the operation. In the meantime let’s keep traveling and taking photos. Maybe all I need is you and not Photoshop!!! Becke

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