Adobe: When it's awesome, overprice it.
Adobe Systems Incorporated began in December 1982 and was founded by two funny-named men, John Warnock and Charles Geshcke. They quit working at Xerox PARC probably because programmers were as rare and unneeded as astronauts back then. The first program they were working on was Postscript, a programming language to operate bulky laser printers during that time.
After the huge success of Postscript the two founders of Adobe began to work on making computer fonts look more like printed text, because the lame 8-bit blocky system text was now deemed lame (and it was just the mid 80's). They were the ones behind the TrueType and OpenType font systems, and they were the ones who first developed a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface. That's right, whenever you type that boring fan fic on Word, that blog post on LJ where you say you want to hang yourself tonight, or writing here on Cracked, you're using Adobe software. Thankfully, it is now free.
Adobe entered the consumer software market when they debuted their vector graphics editor, Adobe Illustrator, for the Macintosh and other various machines made by Apple (which were extremely shitty by then). Technically, it's not an image manipulator like Photoshop. It's more of something people use to make logos. Back then, you have to take a template, stick it somewhere, paint on it, then you have your logo. The advent of Adobe Illustrator made logos more symmetrical and boring.
Originally, the first desktop publishing program was not created nor owned by Adobe. It was from Aldus Corporation. It was a huge fail for Adobe to not be able to participate in the desktop publishing market. However, in 1994, the owners of Aldus finally had enough and merged with Adobe, and their software has been mistaken for its authors ever since.
Like Pagemaker, Photoshop was not originally made by Adobe. It all started with some lazy college boy, (whose surname was probably named after a D&D creature) Thomas Knoll. Knoll, probably after 7 straight hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons, began to work on a program to display monochromatic images on a black and white screen. You may be thinking that he was making this program in order for him to view his japanese tentacle rape hentai and badly-shopped Rule 34's, however, take note that this was 1987. Digital photos were very rare and were stored in cassette tapes, and Japan hasn't caught the idea of girls being raped by tentacles yet.
His brother John watched him create a "seemingly useless" program back then, since drawing grayscale scribbles were not considered productive. Nonetheless, his brother, being his brother and all, thought that John Knoll's program is awesome, and collaborated with him in developing it. The sheer amount of time they took on developing the software chipped some of their time with their studies, but ultimately, it sorta got them out of their D&D addiction (for now you'll wonder why today's WoW gamers are also programmers but can't seem to get WoW out of their system).
After releasing a rough beta of their program, Thomas Knoll decided a lame name was appropriate for it, so he named the program as Display. However, "pro" was already an overused n00b meme back then so they decided to rename the program as "ImagePro". Finally, after another year of trying to think up of a marketeable name, they named it as "Photoshop", the Photoshop we all use today to draw tentacle rape hentai and to make badly-shopped Rule 34s.
John Knoll took their program and showed it off at Silicon Valley, where the big computer names of the time (Apple and Adobe) were present. Adobe thought the whole program was awesome, so they bought it off the two ex-D&D-nerds-now-turned-programmers' program and sold it on the Macintosh platform.
Today, Adobe is hugely successful for the latest installments of Adobe Photoshop, which, ironically has been dubbed as "an industry standard for graphics professionals". Typically, it is sold way over the suggestive retail price, primarily because of those unwanted "licenses" you have to agree and pay for. Adobe Photoshop's price ranges from $290 - $400, which is as expensive as buying yourself a new graphics card. A toned down version of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, was introduced as a noob-friendly version of the popular image manipulation software.
If you do not have enough moolah to purchase Adobe software, there are numerous open-source programs or cheaper ones created by other companies. For example, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), is an excellent alternative to Photoshop, and is available to Windows and Linux platforms free of charge. That's right, there is a program that does almost exactly what Photoshop does for free.
Adobe is also involved in developing other productivity programs such as Soundbooth, Flash, Shockwave, Flex (not a program that tells you where the nearest gaybar is), and AIR, just to name a few,