Adobe’s first software product is as relevant today as it was when it first launched.
When Adobe® Illustrator® shipped on March 19, 1987, it was the first software application for a young company that had, until then, focused solely on the Adobe PostScript® printing technology. The new product not only altered Adobe's course dramatically, but it also changed drawing and line art forever.
Adobe cofounder John Warnock initially conceived of Illustrator as a PostScript drawing tool. He saw parallels between what his wife, Marva — a graphic artist — created with pen and paper and what PostScript printed with dots on paper. Warnock recognized that the Bezier curves in PostScript could be applied to the shapes illustrators painstakingly created by hand, so he set out to develop a drawing application.
Today, it's hard to imagine getting through even a part of our day without seeing the influence of Illustrator.
"Most people have no idea how many things in their lives were created in Illustrator. It's not just packaging and logo design, it's maps, car dashboards, shoes, and watches," said Brenda Sutherland, product manager for Adobe Illustrator. "From paper dolls to online avatars, from animated cartoons to collectable characters, Illustrator has touched us all."
A new level of creative freedom
Adobe Illustrator gave designers an entirely new level of creative freedom, so they could focus on what they wanted to create rather than how to do it. The secret to its success was the use of vector graphics — a way to draw objects using points, lines, curves, and shapes.
The groundbreaking new software went on to become a flagship product of Adobe's future software line. Illustrator celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
From one digital revolution to the next
Illustrator played a significant role in the first digital publishing revolution. That revolution transformed what had once been done by a relatively small number of people — perhaps 20,000 worldwide — into the modern graphic design industry, involving millions of people integrated into industries as varied as architecture, filmmaking, web design, printing and publishing, and much more.
“It's so hard for young designers today to even imagine how their predecessors worked before Illustrator,” Sutherland said. “And what's really exciting is that 25 years later, Illustrator continues to be an important part of the next digital revolution.”