A dramatic colored picture of a tiger's head

This blog post documents my unsuccessful software archeology attempt to find the origin and the author of the famous PostScript tiger colorful vector graphics. Get the (mostly unchanged) EPS file from the Ghostscript SVN repository, here.

The earliest Ghostscript version containing the tiger I could dig up is version 2.6.1 (5/28/93) [download] in Slackware Linux 1.1.2. FYI The earliest Ghostscript version in Debian is 2.6.1 as well [download].

The image itself contains the comment %%CreationDate: 4/12/90 3:20 AM, so the earliest possible Ghostscript version that can contain it is 2.0 (released on 9/12/90) — but I wasn't able to find a download link for that Ghostscript. The author and the copyright is not indicated. The only description is found in the Ghostscript history.doc file, saying tiger.ps - A dramatic colored picture of a tiger's head.

Even Wikipedia doesn't specify the origin of the tiger graphics. All I could find is this question asking where it comes from.

Here is the relevant part of the EPS header in the tiger.ps and tiger.eps file:

%%Creator: Adobe Illustrator(TM) 1.2d4
%%For: OpenWindows Version 2
%%Title: tiger.eps
%%CreationDate: 4/12/90 3:20 AM
%%DocumentProcSets: Adobe_Illustrator_1.2d1 0 0
%%DocumentSuppliedProcSets: Adobe_Illustrator_1.2d1 0 0

What I've learned: Linux distributions (especially Debian and Slackware) are very useful sources of the source code of ancient versions of some free software.

The origin of the tiger thus remains unsolved.


Mike Hobart said...

I just noticed that there is a very similar tiger head used to illustrate a mug. The site at zazzle.ca credits Michael Scaramozzino as creating the design in 1988 in Aldus.

pts said...

@Mike: Could you please give a link to the similar tiger? None of these tigers seem to be similar to the PostScript tiger. http://www.zazzle.ca/aldus+gifts

Jeff Muizelaar said...

It looks like the tiger.ps was added in gs 2.4.1: http://ftp.sunet.se/pub/text-processing/postscript/interpreters/ghostscript/gnu/gs2/ghostscript-2.4-2.4.1.diff.gz

Mike said...

The zazzle tiger is drawn from a different view than the tiger.ps one but looks like it's the same tiger drawn the same way by the same artist. After googling Michael Scaramozzino a bit more it seems highly unlikely that anyone else drew it.

Jon Bailey said...

I emailed some former Sun Microsystems employees, and this is what I got:

"...I had a little fun circulating that image to some old friends, many still at Adobe, who were the design team, most of whom were there from very early on (1985, 1986). Nobody knew who drew that image, but we think it came out of a batch of interns who worked at Adobe around 1990 who were testing both Illustrator itself and the process of design/print. That it was drawn with a development version of Illustrator (1.2d1) supports that theory. Suspect that people liked that image better than the others and it got forwarded around."