It would be difficult to write a book such as this one without recounting the history of the GIMP...so here it is.
The original GIMP was created of necessity by Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis in August, 1995. They were working on a project for a computer science class at the University of California, Berkeley, and their project was dumping core. They decided, in extremis, to try something different--a pixel-based image manipulation program.
Six months later, in February of 1996, an early beta version of the GIMP was released onto the Internet, and the adventure had commenced. This early GIMP, version 0.54, relied on the Motif widget library for the core windowing capabilities. The use of this commercial software product went contrary to the currents of the open-source movement, which were beginning to gather momentum around the growing base of Linux users. A decision was made to generate an independent, open widget set based on an equally open core drawing library. The GIMP toolkit (GTK) was born. The first version of the toolkit was released in July of 1996.
At this point there were already many developers around the world working with Kimball and Mattis on debugging and improving the GIMP. The GIMP had several major weaknesses as a pixel-based image-manipulation program because it had an inefficient memory management system and did not have layers. After a long wait, version 0.99 was released in February of 1997. This version of the GIMP contained the main features and architecture of the GIMP as it is distributed today. It was layer-based, with a tiled memory management scheme built in, and a large number of plug-in filters had been written for it.
Finally, on May 19, 1998 the GIMP passed from beta development to its first stable release. The GIMP version 1.0 was delivered to the Internet community. Since then, development of the GIMP has continued at a rapid pace.