Source: Oakland Business Review
Written by Nathan Bomey
For Thomas Knoll, manipulating pixels topped his priority list in 1987.
Never mind that the sideline effort distracted him from working on his doctoral degree in computer information and control engineering at the University of Michigan.
Because the payoff yielded a landmark result: His tangential project changed the software industry forever.
Knoll’s creation, which eventually became known as Adobe Photoshop, has become an indispensable tool in the graphic design and photography industries.
Knoll, a longtime Ann Arbor resident with his wife, Ruth, received Business Review’s Lifetime Innovator award Oct. 4 at the second annual “Innovation Michigan” event at The Henry Ford Museum.
Knoll could have left for greener pastures many years ago, considering that Adobe is based in San Jose, Calif.
But the software genius has always liked Ann Arbor better – primarily because he likes the changing of the seasons here and hates the traffic in California.
Thomas in his favorite “code writing position” at home in Ann Arbor (photo by Jeff Schewe)
In a rare interview, Knoll marveled at the longevity of Photoshop. He said the only program that has matched its prominence is the software suite Microsoft Office.
“It’s remarkable that it’s managed to stay at the top of its market,” Knoll said of Photoshop. “There aren’t many programs that are still the state of the art in their fields after so long.”