Happy 10th birthday, Lightroom!

Ten years ago today, Adobe released the first public preview of “Project Lightroom.” It was Mac-only, ultra lightweight, wildly incomplete, and very promising. Dizzy after blazing all over Europe previewing the app to journalists, here’s how I blogged it:

First, the product isn’t finished, and that’s a good thing. Letting a preview version into the wild now lets us engage the broad photography community in a new way. It’s the nature of the beast that just about any 1.0 product will have some shortcomings and rough edges. The thing is, we’re not going to start charging for ours until you’ve had plenty of time to kick the tires & help shape the feature set.

Amazingly, the demo video from that first post is still available, so I’ve stuck it onto YouTube for the occasion:

Looking back, my antipathy towards Apple (which had just released Aperture for $499 (!) at PhotoPlus in late October) was so clear. Your 1.0 is incomplete, too, I was saying, and we’re going to contrast your chutzpah with our humility.

Yet the best thing ever to happen to Lightroom was Aperture. It got us out of our heads & got the app into users’ hands. Before Aperture shipped, Adobe had spent three+ years running in circles on a great idea, not sure how to explain it to users, establish its value, and still protect Photoshop. Then Apple wrapped the Javitz Center in a 40-foot-high banner that said, “Everything you need after the shoot.” Bang, it was game on: a matter of weeks later, Lightroom had transformed from a pile of greasy parts on the garage floor to a useful, impressive beta. We never looked back, and over the following years, I loved writing about LR kicking Aperture’s ass among pros.

Now, let’s see what the next decade brings. 🙂 [YouTube]

8 thoughts on “Happy 10th birthday, Lightroom!

  1. The next decade better see Adobe moving more aggressively in the mobile space with LR or it will join Aperture. LR mobile has some promise but still doesn’t integrate smoothly into a mobile or even desktop based workflow

  2. Wow, Adobe finally had a product that didn’t need a 5 year learning curve for photographers or did that long learning curve prepare us for something really neat but also complicated. I got my copy with version 5 and was surprised how easy it was to use.

  3. I was a member of the LR Windows beta and it transformed my workflow…well, it helped me create a *usable* workflow for the first time! I’m using LR CC as well as LR Mobile now and the combination helps me show my clients my work for them. Thanks for reminiscing!

  4. Adobe could use another Aperture to fan the competitive flames and get the engineering team to goose Lightroom’s rendering performance! (Yes I know there’s no magic bullet, but I suffer, suffer, suffer.)

    1. Thanks, Hans. Man, I look so young & puffy & TIRED (after a week of flying to a new country every single day :-p). Thanks for the memories!

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