Soviet proto-Photoshop ca. 1987

Via the BB Submitterator, Boing Boing reader Yenisei says,

Three years before Photoshop 1.0, Soviet computer engineers were already retouching old, damaged images using this amazing piece of technology. Rotary scanner! Magnetic tape! Trackball! "Z for zoom"! And, of course, Didier Marouani, the hippest electronic music available in the USSR at the time.
Video Link: Советский Ñ„оÑ‚ошоп - круче!


  1. Of course, the Soviets were already the great masters of Photoshop. Check out the professional use of the Clone Tool in these 1937 photos: 1 2

  2. Did anyone notice the Apple III computer? Right at 1:37
    With the discretely-placed diskette sleeve covering the Apple logo.

  3. I love the shot of the highly unpopular Apple /// computer. Steve Jobs shipped all those things to the Soviet Union when they didn’t sell in the west, and Apple never used the number “3” in a product name again (until the iPhone 3G).

  4. I don’t know if I’d want that man’s job. I’d be afraid of getting an important assignment removing a fallen politico from a photo – and then having someone come to remove me as a witness.

    1. Your comment is exactly 50 years late. USSR in 1987 was very, very different from 1937. It’s like looking at an English kid from the sixties and saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to be him. He probably has to work sixteen hours a day as a chimney sweep for a bowl of gruel and his master treats him worse than a dog. That’s what happens to kids in England, I read it in ‘Oliver Twist'”. To be fair, it’s exactly what we were told in Soviet times.

      1. And only 20 years later russian technology was already so advanced, that they were able to rip some footage from “Titanic” DVD and present as footage from their submarine!

  5. Enhance 224176
    Enhance, Stop
    Move in, Stop
    Pull out, Track right, Stop
    Center in, Pull back, Stop
    Track 45 right, Stop
    Center and Stop
    Enhance 34 to 36
    Pan right and pull back, Stop
    Enhance 34 to 46
    Pull back, Wait a minute, Go right, Stop
    Enhance 5719
    Track 45 left, Stop
    Enhance 15 to 23
    Give me a hard copy right there.

  6. Scitex, an Israeli company, had the Response system in 1982 – sure it cost US$1.5 and took up a room but…

  7. There was a ton of image editing software in use prior to Photoshop 1.0. At the time most of the higher-end software ran on Sun and Silicon Graphics hardware. Photoshop just brought the price tag down a notch. @eti mentions ImageStudio, but there were many others.

  8. When the video started, I was hearing a Russian dubbed version of Twilight Zone “You’re entering a dimension of sound…”

  9. For a good history of Soviet photo alteration: “The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia” by David King. It’s OP, but used copies can be found by using the InterWebs.

  10. Those scanners are called “drum scanners,” and I’ve used them up into the 21st century at graphic arts firms where I did prepress work. They are capable of high resolution scans, and were once state of the art, even long after this piece was produced.

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