It was 1990 when Thomas Knoll was working on a program to display grayscale images. This program was called "Display", and was destined to become the well-known Photoshop, whose market grew rapidly in the 90s thanks to the invention of the digital camera. Nowadays, Photoshop allows you to do whatever you want - you just need to know the appropriate techniques and apply some imagination.
Photoshop CS5 has an easy-to-understand and familiar interface. It has the same distribution it had in CS4 but with some improvements. For example, there is a new Mini Bridge, which though it does not have all the functionality you get out of Bridge, at least now you will not need to leave Photoshop to use it.
In the digital world, we call anything that performs some processing “a filter”, and Photoshop has a lot of them for easy access and use. There are filters for enhancing, distorting, deforming, adding light or darkness, creating a texture, rendering, and more. By applying one or more of these filters you can get better pictures or very “unreal” objects - you can have fun just finding out what each filter does. A nice one in this version is the automatic correction lens, useful to eliminate the distortion found in some pictures.
Photoshop is great for photographers, because it helps a lot with postproduction with all its restoring and enhancing tools. We all have these pictures with unwanted people, objects, or with stains - now it is incredibly easy to take them away with the new automated tools. Before CS5, it was difficult to select curly fur or hair, but now complex selections are made easy.
Graphic designers have always seen Photoshop as their favorite tool. Many people draw comics or graphic novels, or make conceptual designs employing Photoshop. There are also new tools for this people - for example, the extraordinary new paint effects, an improved HDR imaging for amazing results, or the efficient workflow that allows us to work with different layers at the same time. All of this gives a great boost to graphic designers’ productivity rate.
If you want more, you can extent Photoshop possibilities by adding plug-ins. As Photoshop has become a standard, its API plug-in is a standard as well. There are lots of plug-ins that work with any editor, and the great majority of them are used to add an effect to an image. You can get some from Adobe itself, either free or by purchase, and there are many more developed by third parties.
Photoshop is really a good software application, but it also has some deficiencies. For example, I have always found Photoshop to be a somehow slow runner - it is as if Adobe never optimizes their products. The 3D interface was a bit confusing to me and also a bit slow, even with the OpenGL and GPU acceleration, 1.5 GB are not enough for Photoshop. It demands at least two, and I got quite a few "Not enough RAM" messages. Programs such as "Maya" and "3D Studio" from Autodesk can show tons of verticals, textures, and light sources in the same machine, while Photoshop has problems displaying simpler objects - that means that something is wrong.
Photoshop has made a great impact in our culture, since people say that an image is a "Photoshopped image" when modified with this program. As soon as you start using it, you immediately feel comfortable with its environment, its tools and filters, and you understand why Photoshop has had such a great impact. When one thinks about editing images, Photoshop is the first option that comes to mind - it is indeed the best product from Adobe.