Last modification: 01/19/08 19:26

Whatever happened to Deluxe Paint?

(Box art by Doug Shannon & Don Woo - front back)

The 1985-era source code to Deluxe Paint I was released by the Computer History Museum on 7/22/2015. The source code (no copy-protection support, no makefile, uses Lattice overlays) is datestamped 12/3/2014. Other programmers mentioned include Gordon Knopes, Steve Shaw, Jerry Morrison, tomc & mrp.

The Swedish Amiga magazine AZine also interviewed me about Deluxe Paint back in 2005. That article's a lot more cheery, and you can read it here. Deluxe Paint also figures prominently in the IEEE's famous "Bushy Tree" diagram of the lineage of visual interactive computing systems as being an ancestor of Photoshop. It is interesting to note that Dan Silva, (Deluxe Paint's original creator), the Knoll brothers (inventors of Photoshop),  co-developer Lee Ozer and myself all have historical connections to Xerox and/or Pixar. According to legend, Photoshop was presented (and rejected!) for marketing consideration back in the mists of time by Deluxe Paint's last producer at Electronic Arts, Hal Jordy. (5/11 Update - Hal wrote in to say that the man involved was most likely Stewart Bonn, DPaint's first producer. Having known Stewart Bonn, I asked for (and eventually received) some more details but I'm not sure I'm ready to call this story gospel yet.)

(The following is a response I made in a thread on in response to users asking "Whatever happened to Deluxe Paint?" I'm not sure where you can grab it today - the pre-AGA version used to be available for free download at which at the time claimed sole EAUK permission and hosting rights.)

I was the co-developer of Deluxe Paint from version 4.1 on, along with Lee Ozer. Some people have been wondering whatever happened to the product series, so here's a little background.

EA was going through a big transition from 1992 on, attempting some things that never materialized (creating standup arcade games), some things that only partially materialized (edutainment software, ala the Learning Company) and the franchise-centric EA Sports brand, which was just two guys at the time negotiating with sports agents. Deluxe Paint was part of the now-defunct Tools (formerly Creativity) division, which created everything that wasn't a game: Deluxe Paint, Deluxe Video, Deluxe Music, Deluxe Animation, the Studio/8 and Studio/32 line of Mac products, and others.

Deluxe Paint was one of the most profitable releases in EA history at that point, but was already becoming eclipsed by the much more profitable cartridge divisions selling titles for the Sega Genesis, etc. In fact, the home game consoles were so strong that most of the company was being focused in that area, with only reluctant support for CD-ROM products on PC's and Macs. By the time the first EA Sports titles hit the shelves, it was pretty clear that the company wasn't interested in PC applications anymore, and killed off the entire Tools division. Deluxe Music 2 (done out-of-house by David Joiner) and Deluxe Paint V were the last applications to ship, and we were racing the clock to get DPaintV out the door before Commodore went bankrupt. It was a positively hellish time for morale, and both Lee and I left the company soon after that release.

Dan Silva had already moved on to Autodesk after the first three versions of Deluxe Paint. Lee had gotten her start at EA working with Dan on the port of DPaint III that became Brent Iverson's Deluxe Paint Animation on the PC. Chris Mayer, a former PC video card device driver engineer, maintained the IBM version of DPaint while I was there. (For the record the IBM and Apple II gs ports were also done by Brent Iverson, with Steve Shaw doing II Enhanced for the PC along with a bit of DPaint 4 & DPA.) Chuck Swan of Trimedia, Inc. (creator of the Amiga pressure-sensitive tablet driver) consulted with us on pressure support and ARexx for DPaintV.

By the way: If anybody has made pressure support work on an Amiga emulator, I'd like to know! Send me an email (address below.)

Deluxe Paint 4.5/4.6 AGA was the last shining moment for DPaint, as it not only sold tons of copies (many to Commodore for bundling with the A1200) it was also efficient and stable, being the most bug-free release in the entire DPaint series.

DPaintV was much delayed by the fact that we were waiting for Commodore's RTG (ReTargetable Graphics) solution to arrive for native 24-bit support and were let down. The whole product had already been rewritten for 24-bit, but with EA being reluctant to support 3rd-party cards (like Picasso, etc) - we just hoped that C= would be ready for us by the time we were ready for them. Didn't happen. Actually, a lot of things never happened; when I came on board, the company had just given up on trying to turn DPaint a 3-D program, and my own Flash-like video timeline editor (complete with audio and software music synthesizer!) was deemed too advanced for the technology at the time.

Releasing DPaintV became a very low priority for EA upon the collapse of Commodore, with Manufacturing bumping it out of the '94 Xmas release slot and into the following year. It was released however with the help of EA UK, who as our most important internal sponsor has been selling and licensing the product through various third parties in Europe ever since.

Something overlooked in DPaintV is the Player. In prior versions this was just a chopped-up scaled down version of DPaint that was made freely redistributable so anyone could play ANIM files. But in DPaintV, I rewrote the Player from scratch to support full-screen streaming off the hard drive and the thing just burns. (Remember, this was the era when Macs were animating postage stamps and calling it "Desktop Video." There was never a more efficient animator on the Amiga, and it supported ARexx too.

Well, that's it. It was a very hard time in those end days watching Commodore go under, and we only had a few weeks' warning ahead of the rest of the Amiga community. Such is life.


Dallas Hodgson

Copyright 1996-2020 Rock Island Productions