Thank you, Robert Voit, creator of JASC Paint Shop Pro

Robert —

In the early to mid-90s my hobby was making video games of various sorts with my friend Jesse. Our tools were Recreational Software Designs Game-Maker 2.0 and your creation JASC Paint Shop Pro (PSP). I discovered both in a software mail order catalog and purchased them with my lawn mowing cash. We used PSP to design our title screens mostly.

I had purchased the shareware version of PSP, which came with a 30-day trial period. I discovered that if I simply uninstalled and reinstalled PSP, we would get another 30-days of free use. But, my conscience didn’t feel good about my discovery. It was stealing–plain and simple. I sent JASC a brief letter explaining how we were using PSP and asking for permission to continue using it. I figured, the worst that could happen is that you could say “no” and I would have to save up to buy the full version. The best that could happen is that you would say “yes” and we would be back in business.

To my shock and surprise, you sent me the following reply:

Robert Voit JASC Paint Shop Pro

You included a boxed version of PSP with your letter. I couldn’t have been more surprised or excited. It’s still one of my favorite childhood memories to this day.

Only a year or two later, Jesse and I stopped making our games. The limitations of Game-Maker were quite real, and something bigger had arrived: The World Wide Web.

I quickly taught myself HTML and continued to use PSP as my image editor–even later paying for upgraded versions. (Version 6 was my favorite!) I made websites on top of lawn mowing to earn cash throughout high school and college, which helped pay for school. The experience set me up to be a career website and web app builder (see PC World, September 2006, page 37). I couldn’t have done it without PSP. And I always liked it better than Adobe Photoshop, which I got to use during a few summer jobs.

Your kindness taught me three things: honesty and hard work are rewarding–both spiritually and materially–and that it’s fun to surprise and delight and help those whom you can. It was no surprise to me years later to learn that JASC was acquired by Corel. Your life’s hard work, honesty, and kindness rewarded you, and I couldn’t have been happier for you.

Thank you for teaching me some valuable lessons and your gift that summer. I’m grateful.

Although Jesse and I never officially shipped a game to market, I dug up one of them for old time’s sake and to finally follow through on my end of the deal. Here’s a video of Xylon.

Thanks again,

Ian

P.S. For folks interested in the Paint Shop Pro story, read this great Motherboard article.

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4 thoughts on “Thank you, Robert Voit, creator of JASC Paint Shop Pro

  1. Paul

    I’ve been a software developer for 20 years and I literally still use (a bought copy of) PSP7. Its the oldest bit of software I have running on my PC. I know I should use something else instead now but for simple functions its still works fine for me and especially these days it run amazingly fast ;-)

    Reply
  2. David Roberts

    I still use a copy of PSP version 4.14 I bought around 1996. It’s simple, straight forward and easy to use. I started out with Version 3 before upgrading.

    Reply
  3. Rick Gutleber

    I first purchased a license for Paint Shop Pro around version 3 and was an avid user through version 9. When Corel acquired PSP, there was a lot of concern among PSP fans that they would ruin the product, and they did. I purchased PSP 10, but soon went back to PSP 9. I tried the demo of PSP 11 and was so disgusted by its horrible performance I ignored PSP for several years. Apparently during that time there was also very onerous DRM embedded in the product, so I just stuck with PSP 9 for a long time.

    But there’s a happy ending to the story. Corel got wise and returned PSP to its former glory around version 15 and since then it’s been a fine product again, which I still use. I just upgraded to the most recent version not too long ago and it’s very similar to the versions I knew and loved from the old days.

    Thanks to Robert Voit for creating a classic!

    Reply

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