Kid Pix was this really freaked up art program "for children" that was really popular around 1991 or so. It originally started as a simple black & white shareware program, but eventually they released a much more sophisticated color version. I seem to remember a windows port was released at some point. The black&white version was never anything more than obscure (i found it years later on a shareware compilation cd); the color version was the one that literally changed our lives.

Kid Pix had the standard pencil, paintbrush, paint bucket and selection tools that every paint program since MacPaint had contained; but from there they went a lot further. They had a huge number of really weird paintbrushes; things where you'd draw and it would draw curly looping lines; things where drawing would draw not a line, but a series of randomly colored bubbles that were just kind of left behind the mouse in a trail. Paintbrushes that would invert and jitter existing parts of the image. One paintbrush drew a tree by drawing single lines that forked randomly from where you clicked as long as the mouse was down.

But mention "kid pix" to anyone who attended a school with macintoshes around its time, and the two features they'll remember most will be the icons and the erasers. The icons were pretty simple; a collection of about 70 or so icons that you could just kind of drop into your picture anywhere you wanted. The icons deserve attention not because they were a good feature, but because they were very overused; most Kid Pix pictures consisted of nothing but icons and text. The erasers, though, were sublime; all they did was erase your entire image, but they did it in wonderfully weird ways, like drawing random letters until the letters covered the screen and then pulling the resulting mess apart like barn doors, or sucking the image into this weird black hole thing. But the most popular by far was the dynamite, which inverted a series of increasingly larger concentric circles centering wherever you clicked until the screen was covered-- and then deleted the screen. At the time, this was somehow the coolest thing in the universe. You had to be there. Most people i saw using kidpix would sit there for hours, drawing stupid things with the icons and then blowing them up with the dynamite.

And then there were the filters, which now i realize were extremely simple and common (zoom in, invert, find edges, a funky glowing blur, etc.) but at the time they blew my mind. And, of course, literally everything in Kid Pix had secret special modes that you would activate by holding the meta-keys. Like if you held down some combination of Option, Shift, and Shift-Option and then placed an icon, the icon would be really big. And if you pressed option while an eraser was going off, the eraser would pause right where it was and just leave what it had done so far behind-- meaning you could get the dynamite effect to stay, and your picture wouldn't be deleted.

My favorite part by far was the sounds. You could embed a sound into a kid pix document using the microphone bundled with every mac at the time (which at the time seemed a very weird thing for apple to do), and then play it back-- except if you held down shift, it would play in slow motion, and if you held down option, it would play really quickly. Somehow i never got bored of this until the day i found a real sound manipulation program. I realize now my fascination with the sound and filters in Kid Pix were a portent that i would one day become a wannabe DJ and photoshop filter junkie.

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