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Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator CC icon
Initial release January 1987
Latest release CC 2020 (24.1) / March 6, 2020
OS Windowssmall.png Windows 10
Osxsmall.png macOS 10.12 Sierra or later
Genre Vector graphics editor
Licence Proprietary
File format(s) .ai, .cdr, .eps, .svg

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based drawing program developed and marketed by Adobe Systems. Currently, it is available under the Creative Cloud bundle, or can be purchased for $33.99 per month. Adobe Illustrator is used primarily for type manipulatiowell as logo and vector design.



The Story Behind Adobe Illustrator (Part 1 of 3) Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Illustrator was first developed for the Apple Macintosh in 1986 (shipping in January 1987) as a commercialization of Adobe's in-house font development software and PostScript file format. Adobe Illustrator is the companion product of Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is primarily geared toward digital photo manipulation and photorealistic styles of computer illustration, while Illustrator provides superior results in the typesetting and logographic areas of design.

Initial release[]

In many ways Illustrator's release was a gamble: the Macintosh did not have high market share, the only printer that could output Illustrator documents was Apple's own LaserWriter, also very new and expensive, and the drawing paradigm of Bézier curves was novel to the mainstream user. Not only did the Macintosh show only monochrome graphics, but display options were basically limited to its built-in 9 monitor. Illustrator helped drive the development of larger monitors for the Macintosh. citation needed

Illustrator was a reliable, capable product, however, and its relatively shallow learning curve let users quickly appreciate that the new paradigm was not only better, but finally solved the problem of imprecision from existing programs like MacDraw. It also provided a tool for people who could neither afford nor learn high-end software such as AutoCAD. Illustrator successfully filled a niche between painting and CAD programs.

Illustrator's power and simplicity derive from the choice of Bézier curves as the primary document element. A degenerate curve provides a line, and circles and arcs (trigonometric shapes) can be emulated closely enough. In a novel twist, Adobe also made Illustrator documents true PostScript files — if one wanted to print them, one could send them directly to a PostScript printer instead of printing them from Illustrator. Since PostScript is a readable text format, third-party developers also found it easy to write programs that generated Illustrator documents.

Adobe was willing to take risks with Illustrator's user interface. Instead of following Apple's UI guidelines to the letter or imitating other popular Macintosh programs, they made it possible to switch between the various navigation tools (i.e, Zoom and Pan) using various keyboard key combinations.

Versions 2 – 5[]


The Story Behind Adobe Illustrator (Part 2 of 3) Adobe Creative Cloud

Although Adobe developed Illustrator primarily for the Macintosh during its first decade, it sporadically supported other platforms. In the early 1990s, Adobe released versions of Illustrator for NeXT, Silicon Graphics IRIX, and Sun Solaris platforms, but they were discontinued due to poor market acceptance. The first version of Illustrator for Microsoft Windows, version 2.0, was released in early 1989, but it was a flop. The next Windows version, version 4.0, was widely criticized as being too similar to Illustrator 1.1 instead of the Macintosh 3.0 version, and certainly not the equal of Windows' most popular illustration package CorelDraw. (Note that there were no versions 2.0 or 4.0 for the Macintosh. Version 4 was, however the first version of Illustrator to support editing in preview mode, which did not appear in a Macintosh version until 5.0 in 1993.

Versions 6 – 10[]

With the introduction of Illustrator 6 in 1996, Adobe made critical changes in the user interface with regards to path editing (and also to converge on the same user interface as Adobe Photoshop), and many users opted not to upgrade. To this day, many users find the changes questionable. Illustrator also began to support TrueType, making the "font wars" between PostScript Type 1 and TrueType largely moot. Like Photoshop, Illustrator also began supporting plug-ins, greatly and quickly extending its abilities.

With true ports of the Macintosh versions to Windows starting with version 7 in 1997, designers could finally standardize on Illustrator. Corel did port CorelDRAW 6.0 to the Macintosh in late 1996, but it was received as too little, too late. Aldus ported FreeHand to Windows but it was not the equal of Illustrator. Adobe bought Aldus in 1994 for PageMaker, and as part of the transaction it sold FreeHand to Macromedia (which was later acquired by Adobe). Clarifying difference in strengths between Photoshop and Illustrator with the rise of the Internet, Illustrator was enhanced to support Web publishing, rasterization previewing, PDF, and SVG.

Versions CS (11) & CS2 (12)[]

Adobe Illustrator CS2 icon

Illustrator 11 and 12, respectively known as Adobe Illustrator CS and CS2 to reflect their integration with Adobe Creative Suite and Creative Suite 2, were available for both the Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. These were the last versions for PowerPC-based Macs which did not run natively on Intel processors. Illustrator CS was the first version to include 3-dimensional capabilities allowing users to extrude or revolve shapes to create simple 3D objects.

Among the new features included in Illustrator CS2 were Live Trace, Live Paint, a control palette and custom workspaces. Live Trace allows for the conversion of bitmap imagery into vector art. Live Paint allows users more flexibility in applying color to objects, specifically those that overlap.

Version CS3 (13)[]


The Story Behind Adobe Illustrator (Part 3 of 3) Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Illustrator CS3 was announced on March 27, 2007, and shipped on April 16. The Mac version is a universal binary. New features include Live Color, which provides tools for creating color harmonies based on color theory, and the ability to dynamically apply colors to selected objects and shift the tone of an entire illustration at one time. Remapping controls are also provided for reducing the numbers of colors in an artwork. Also new are better integration with Flash, with named symbol instances and dynamic/static text; improved drawing tools and controls; faster runtime performance; an Eraser tool that works on vector objects; a Crop Area tool; and an improved Isolation Mode for groups and symbol definitions.


Starting with version 1.0, Adobe chose to license an image of Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" from the Bettmann Archive and use the portion containing Venus' face as Illustrator's branding image. Warnock desired a Renaissance image to evoke his vision of Postscript as a new Renaissance in publishing, and Adobe employee Luanne Seymour Cohen, who was responsible for the early marketing material, found Venus' flowing tresses a perfect vehicle for demonstrating Illustrator's strength in tracing smooth curves over bitmap source images. Over the years the rendition of this image on Illustrator's splash screen and packaging became more stylized to reflect features added in each version.

The image of Venus was replaced (albeit still accessible via easter egg) in Illustrator CS (11.0) and CS2 (12.0) by a stylized flower to conform to the Creative Suite's nature imagery. In CS3, Adobe changed the suite branding once again, to simple colored blocks with two-letter abbreviations, resembling a periodic table of elements. Illustrator was represented by the letters Ai against an orange background.

Internationalization and localization[]

Language Availability Adobe Illustrator CS3 is available in the following languages: Arabic Middle Eastern version, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, French (Canadian), German, Greek, Hebrew (Middle Eastern version), Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian. Adobe Illustrator Middle Eastern language versions available from WinSoft

Specific Features for Arabic and Hebrew languages The Middle Eastern/Hebrew and the Middle Eastern/Arabic versions are specifically developed for Arabic and Hebrew languages.

Text Settings[]

Illustrator Middle Eastern versions come with special settings for typing and laying out Arabic or Hebrew text, such as:

Possibility to use Arabic, Farsi or Hindi digits Use kashidas for letter spacing and full justification Set vowels diacritics positioning Ligature option Justify text in three possible ways Standard, Arabic, Naskh

Additional Fonts[]

Illustrator Middle Eastern versions support most fonts shipped with the OS as well as a large number of third party fonts widely used by graphic designers in the Middle Eastern regions. Illustrator Middle Eastern versions install one additional font that facilitates your work in Middle Eastern languages: WinSoft Pro, which is available in four styles: Medium, Medium Italic, Bold and Bold Italic.

Bi-directional Text flow[]

In Illustrator Middle Eastern versions, the notion of right-to-left behaviour applies to several objects: Story, Paragraph and Character. You can easily mix Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right Words, Paragraphs and Stories in a document.

Dictionary and Hyphenation Module[]

Illustrator Middle Eastern versions come with a comprehensive dictionary for Arabic allowing you to spell check Arabic text with a choice of rules, like Strict Aleef Hamza, Strict Final Yaa, both or none. Illustrator Middle Eastern versions come with a Dictionary and Hyphenation Module for Hebrew.

Find Replace[]

You can search for and change specific occurrences of Middle Eastern text. Illustrator Middle Eastern versions include a "Ignore Accent" option. When checked, the user can search for a string of text whether it contains some accents or not.

Import/Export Options for ME characters[]

Illustrator Middle Eastern versions include improved import and export options for RTF, Unicode, Word, Freehand, CorelDraw, PDF, SVG, PSD, EPS, EMF and DXF/DWG files including Middle Eastern text. Encodings has been added for Middle Eastern characters to facilitate text import and export, Save for Web and DXF/DWG file import.

Freehand Hebrew text[]

Illustrator Middle Eastern versions come with an enhanced filter to import Macromedia Freehand Hebrew files.

The Middle Eastern versions are also available for Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe In Copy, Adobe Dreamweaver and for Adobe Creative Suite (Design Standard, Design Premium, Web Premium).

Release history Version Platforms Release date Code name

  • 1.0 Mac OS January 1987 Picasso
  • 1.1 Mac OS March 19, 1987 Inca
  • 88 Mac OS March 1988
  • 2.0 Windows January 1989 Pinnacle
  • 3 Mac OS, NeXT, other October 1990 Desert Moose
  • 3.5 Silicon Graphics 1991
  • 4 Windows May 1992 Kangaroose
  • 3.5 Solaris 1993
  • 5 Mac OS June 1993 Saturn
  • 5.5 Mac OS, Solaris June 1994 Janus
  • 4.1 Windows 1995
  • 6 Mac OS February 1996 Popeye
  • 7 Mac/Windows May 1997 Simba
  • 8 Mac/Windows September 1998 Elvis
  • 9 Mac/Windows June 2000 Matisse
  • 10 Mac/Windows November 2001 Paloma
  • CS (11) Mac/Windows October 2003 Pangaea/Sprinkles
  • CS2 (12, 12.0.1) Mac/Windows April 27, 2005 Zodiac
  • CS3 (13) Mac/Windows April 2007 Jason

External links[]

Adobe Illustrator
1 · 88 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · CS · CS2 · CS3 · CS4 · CS5 · CS6 · CC
Superseded Macromedia FreeHand in Adobe Creative Suite 2.3