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Photoshop will have fans everywhere raising three hands in a toast as the image editing software celebrates its 20th birthday.

Who would have thought the computer graphics tool, released on February 19, 1990, would become so popular?

Photoshop has been used to make family photo albums, magazine fashion spreads and scene designs for Hollywood movies such as Avatar.

It has even entered the popular vernacular, as in ‘It must have been Photoshopped’ when something looks too good to be true.

There are countless Photoshop contests online, encouraging users to make clever or, frankly, rude pictures using the editing equipment.

But perhaps Photoshop’s biggest gift to us has been the Photoshop howler, when someone tries to be clever with the software and gets it spectacularly wrong, leaving subjects with bits missing or, equally bizarrely, with extra appendages.

When one of four missiles from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard failed to launch during a 2008 test, the country turned to Photoshop for help. A bogus missile was added to a photo posted on Iran’s official news website. Of course, the cheat was spotted.

Photoshop’s origins date to 1987, when Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, started messing about with greyscale digital images on a monochrome display.

His brother, John, soon joined him and together they came up with the image editing software, which was also called Display and ImagePro along the way.

This week, John Knoll, now a visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, said: ‘It’s endlessly amusing to see how much it has permeated popular culture. It really is everywhere.

‘You can hardly turn around and not see something that was done in Photoshop. And it started out with Tom and I screwing around with it as a hobby. It was the right product at the right time.’