Mark Hamburg: "The Architect of Photoshop," Adobe Systems

Mark Hamburg

Mark Hamburg

Adobe Fellow, Mark Hamburg, joined Adobe Systems in 1990 as Senior Computer Scientist, where he began work on Photoshop 2.0.  

As the second engineer brought to the Photoshop team, Mark was hired, in part, to assist with the implementation of Paths but he is quoted as saying that his first real contribution to the program was to raise the minimum RAM allocation from 2 to 4 mB, an adjustment that increased Photoshop’s stability and performance.  

Working closely with Photoshop creator, Thomas Knoll, he led the development of successive versions and earned the nickname, the Architect of Photoshop. It was his encouragement that persuaded Bryan Lankin to hire an interface designer to rework the entire user interface of Photoshop prior to the release of Version 4.0.  

Few features have been added to Photoshop that did not pass through Mark’s scrutiny. Even best selling author, Deke McClelland, sought Mark’s expertise and the two collaborated to author the incredibly popular Photoshop Bible.  

A little known piece of Photoshop trivia is that it is Mark’s eye that appears in the Photoshop 5 beta splash screen. 

One can only begin to wonder what Photoshop would be like without the genius of Mark Hamburg. His credits extend from programmer logic and the compositing models that unite Photoshop’s imaging effects to specific features such as the History palette, free transform, screen caching and shapes.  

In 1999, Mark was awarded Inventor of the Year by the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association, one of the nation’s most influential intellectual property groups. Association President, Robert Sabbath, hailed Mark’s vast accomplishments stating “the pervasive, far-reaching nature of Mark Hamburg’s image processing advancements have altered peoples’ perceptions and expectations of Imaging.” Mark stands out as a mathematician inventor, artist innovator who has altered the graphics landscape with the invention of Photoshop.

Today, Mark continues to be a vital part of product design at Adobe and his innovation and leadership have clearly made a lasting impression on the direction, functionality and vitality of Adobe Photoshop.  

But Mark himself maintains a simpler view of his place in Photoshop history. In his words, “I think my primary contribution has been keeping Photoshop as coherent as it is. Many products just turn into a collection of features, but I’d like to think that Photoshop fits together as a more harmonious whole.”


Mark during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech

Mark during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech