Inside the Publishing Revolution: How the LaserWriter and Photoshop Changed the World


Excerpted from “Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story” (Adobe Press/Peachpit Press).

The past 20 years have seen a sea-change in the way we communicate: from publications printed with warehouse-sized printing presses to those produced by desktop computers, from letters cast in metal to alphabets written in code, from designing for print to designing for the Web. At the center of it all has been Adobe Systems, which this month celebrates its 20th anniversary. editor in chief Pamela Pfiffner has written the history of the publishing revolution as seen through the lens of Adobe.

Below are two excerpts from “Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story,” which we’ve posted as PDF files so you can see the book’s layout as designed by Andrew Faulkner of afstudio. Much of the art is taken from personal archives of those involved.

The first piece tells what happened when Steve Jobs called John Warnock to discuss putting Adobe’s PostScript language into Apple’s laser printer. Click to read the chapter “Steve Jobs and the LaserWriter.”

The second selection describes the origins of Photoshop and Adobe’s early plans for the product. Click to read a section of “Unleashing Photoshop.”

You can open PDF files in your Web browser. Or you can download the PDF to your machine for later viewing.

To open the PDF, you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader.


  • anonymous says:

    Is there a mention in the book of the contribution of the founder of Altsys? Did he collaborate with Adobe on font creation tools? He came out with Fontographer fairly early on if my memory serves me right. His first name is Jim.
    I would also think that Adobe had to come up with an in-house application for font generation and am curious about that.

    Did these font creation tools precede Postscript draw programs? Did they contribute to the interface of the bezier curve interface elements (anchor points, direction lines, etc.) That interface element seems to be a pretty important development.

  • anonymous says:

    You’ll have to read the fonts chapter — better yet the entire book — to find out <g>. I do know Jim von Ehr, formerly of Altsys, although I haven’t talked to him for some time.

    Throughout history, there has always been a rancorous debate about who did what when, and this era is no exception. All I can say is what I know from my research and that is that PostScript was the foundation of everything Adobe did back then. PostScript is based on Beziers. Fontographer is based on Beziers. Neither Adobe nor Altsys invented the Bezier. Pierre Bezier did.

    As with all great revolutions, many players contributed, including Altsys (which I do indeed mention). But this book is primarily about Adobe’s participation in that revolution.

    Pamela Pfiffner

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