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John D. Carmack II (born August 20, 1970) is an American
computer programmer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who creates computer software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or ...
and
video game developer A video game developer is a software developer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who creates computer software Software ...
. He co-founded the video game company
id Software id Software LLC () is an American video game developer A video game developer is a software developer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal conte ...
and was the lead programmer of its 1990s games ''
Commander Keen ''Commander Keen'' is a series of side-scrolling platform Platform may refer to: Technology * Computing platform, a framework on which applications may be run * Platform game, a genre of video games * Car platform, a set of components sha ...
'', ''Wolfenstein 3D'', ''Doom (1993 video game), Doom'', ''Quake (video game), Quake'', and their sequels. Carmack made innovations in 3D computer graphics, such as his Carmack's Reverse algorithm for shadow volumes. In 2013, he resigned from id to work full-time at Oculus VR, where he served as Chief technology officer, CTO and later Consulting CTO in 2019.


Biography


Early life

Carmack was born in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, the son of local television news reporter Stan Carmack. He grew up in the Kansas City metropolitan area, where he became interested in computers at an early age. He attended Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas and Raytown South High School in nearby Raytown, Missouri. Carmack was introduced to video games with the 1978 shoot 'em up game ''Space Invaders'' in the Arcade game, arcades during a summer vacation as a child. The 1980 List of maze video games#Maze chase games, maze chase arcade game ''Pac-Man'' also left a strong impression on him. He cited Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto as the game developer he most admired. As reported in David Kushner's ''Masters of Doom'', when Carmack was 14, he broke into a school to help a group of children steal Apple II computers. To gain entry to the building, Carmack concocted a sticky substance of thermite mixed with Vaseline that melted through the windows. However, an overweight accomplice struggled to get through the hole and instead opened the window, setting off a silent alarm and alerting police. Carmack was arrested and sent for psychiatric evaluation. He was sentenced to a year in a juvenile home. He attended the University of Missouri–Kansas City for two semesters before withdrawing to work as a freelance programmer.


Career

Softdisk, a computer company in Shreveport, Louisiana, hired Carmack to work on ''Softdisk (disk magazine), Softdisk G-S'' (an Apple IIGS, Apple IIGS publication), introducing him to John Romero and other future key members of id Software such as Adrian Carmack (not related). Later, Softdisk would place this team in charge of a new, but short-lived, bi-monthly game subscription product called ''Gamer's Edge'' for the IBM PC (DOS) platform. In 1990, while still at Softdisk, Carmack, Romero, and others created the first of the ''
Commander Keen ''Commander Keen'' is a series of side-scrolling platform Platform may refer to: Technology * Computing platform, a framework on which applications may be run * Platform game, a genre of video games * Car platform, a set of components sha ...
'' games, a series that was published by Apogee Software, under the shareware distribution model, from 1991 onwards. Afterwards, Carmack left Softdisk to co-found
id Software id Software LLC () is an American video game developer A video game developer is a software developer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal conte ...
. Carmack has pioneered or popularized the use of many techniques in computer graphics, including "adaptive tile refresh" for ''Commander Keen'', ray casting for ''Hovertank 3D'', ''Catacomb 3-D'', and ''Wolfenstein 3D'', binary space partitioning which ''Doom'' became the first game to use, surface caching which he invented for ''Quake'', Carmack's Reverse (formally known as z-fail stencil shadows) which he devised for ''Doom 3'', and MegaTexture technology, first used in ''Enemy Territory: Quake Wars''. ''Quake 3'' popularized the fast inverse square root algorithm. Carmack's engines have also been licensed for use in other influential first-person shooters such as ''Half-Life (video game), Half-Life'', ''Call of Duty'' and ''Medal of Honor (1999 video game), Medal of Honor''. In 2007, when Carmack was on vacation with his wife, he ended up playing some games on his cellphone, and decided he was going to make a "good" mobile game. On August 7, 2013, Carmack joined Oculus VR as their Chief technology officer, CTO. On November 22, 2013, he resigned from
id Software id Software LLC () is an American video game developer A video game developer is a software developer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal conte ...
to work full-time at Oculus VR. Carmack's reason for leaving was because id's parent company ZeniMax Media did not want to support Oculus Rift. Carmack's role at both companies later became central to a ZeniMax lawsuit against Oculus' parent company, Facebook, claiming that Oculus stole ZeniMax's virtual reality intellectual property. The trial jury absolved Carmack of liability, though Oculus and other corporate officers were held liable for trademark, copyright, and contract violations. In February 2017, Carmack sued ZeniMax, claiming the company had refused to pay him the remaining $22.5 million owed to him from their purchase of id Software. By October 2018, Carmack stated that he and ZeniMax reached an agreement and that "Zenimax has fully satisfied their obligations to me", ending the suit. On November 13, 2019, Carmack announced that he was stepping down from the Oculus CTO role to become a "Consulting CTO" in order to allocate more time to his work on artificial general intelligence (AGI).


Armadillo Aerospace

Around 2000, Carmack became interested in rocketry, a hobby of his youth. Reviewing how much money he was spending on customizing Ferraris, He began by giving financial support to a few local amateur engineers. Carmack funded the company, called Armadillo Aerospace, out of his own pocket, for "something north of a million dollars a year." The company of hobbyists made steady progress toward their goals of suborbital space flight and eventual orbital vehicles. In October 2008, Armadillo Aerospace competed in a NASA contest known as the Lunar Lander Challenge, winning first place in the Level 1 competition along with $350,000. In September 2009, they completed Level 2 and were awarded $500,000. The company went into "hibernation mode" in 2013.


Open-source software

Carmack is a well-known advocate of open-source software, and has repeatedly voiced his opposition to software patents, equating them to robbery. He has also contributed to open-source projects, such as starting the initial port of the X Window System to Mac OS X Server and working to improve the OpenGL drivers for Linux through the Utah GLX project. Carmack released the source code for ''Wolfenstein 3D'' in 1995 and the ''Doom'' source code in 1997. When the source code to ''Quake'' was leaked and circulated among the ''Quake'' community underground in 1996, a programmer unaffiliated with id Software used it to Linux Quake port, port ''Quake'' to Linux, and subsequently sent the patches to Carmack. Instead of pursuing legal action, id Software, at Carmack's behest, used the patches as the foundation for a company-sanctioned Linux port. id Software has since publicly released the source code to ''Quake'', ''Quake 2'', ''Quake 3'' and lastly ''Doom 3'' (and later the ''BFG Edition''), all under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The ''Doom'' source code was also re-released under the GPL in 1999. The id Tech 4 engine, more commonly known as the "''Doom 3'' engine", has also been released as open-source license under the GPL. The source code for ''Hovertank 3D'' and ''Catacomb 3D'' (as well as Carmack's earlier ''Catacomb (video game), Catacomb'') was released in June 2014 by Flat Rock Software with Carmack's blessing. On the other hand, Carmack has several times over the years voiced a skeptical opinion about Linux as a gaming platform; for instance in 2013 he argued for Emulation (computing), emulation as the "proper technical direction for gaming on Linux" and in 2014 he voiced the opinion that Linux might be the biggest problem for the success of the Steam Machine (hardware platform), Steam Machine. Carmack contributes to charities and gaming communities. Some of the recipients of Carmack's Charitable organization, charitable contributions include his former high school, promoters of open-source software, opponents of software patents, and game enthusiasts.


Personal life

Carmack was so successful at id that by mid-1994 he had purchased two Ferraris: a 328 and a Ferrari Testarossa. In 1997, he gave away one of his Ferraris (a Ferrari 328 GTS, 328 model) as a prize to Dennis Fong, the winner of the ''Quake'' tournament "Red Annihilation". He met his [at-that-time] wife, Katherine Anna Kang, at the 1997 QuakeCon when she visited id's offices. As a bet, Kang challenged Carmack to sponsor the first All Female Quake Tournament if she was able to produce a significant number of participants. Carmack predicted a maximum of 25 participants, but there were 1,500. Carmack and Kang married on January 1, 2000, and planned a ceremony in Hawaii. Steve Jobs requested that they would postpone the ceremony so he could attend the MacWorld Expo on January 5, 2000. Carmack declined and suggested making a video instead. Carmack and his wife had a son in 2004. Carmack has a blog last updated in 2006 (previously a finger protocol, .plan), an active Twitter account, and also occasionally posts comments to ''Slashdot''. Carmack changed his married status to divorced on December 30, 2021 As a game developer, Carmack differed from many of his contemporaries by avoiding commitment to a final release date for any game he was developing. Instead, when asked for a release date on a new game, Carmack would usually reply that the game would be released "when it's done". In 2019, as a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast, Carmack stated that his beliefs have changed over time: "I largely recant from that now." On ''Rage (video game), Rage'' 6-year development time he says: "I think we should have done whatever it would have taken to ship it 2 years earlier". Carmack also reflects on the internal development of Quake in this regard and describes it as "traumatic" and says id Software could have split the game into two parts and shipped it earlier. Employees at 3D Realms, Apogee, in their past years the publishers of games by id Software, adopted this business practice as well. Carmack supported the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign, 2012 presidential campaign of Libertarian Party (United States), Libertarian Ron Paul. Carmack is an atheism, atheist. During a conversation with Joe Rogan, Carmack revealed that he had trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo for several years as a hobby. During his time at id Software, a medium pepperoni pizza would arrive for Carmack from Domino's Pizza almost every day, carried by the same delivery person for more than 15 years. Carmack had been such a regular customer that they continued to charge him 1995 prices. On occasion he has commended the efforts of similarly focused programmers – first Ken Silverman, who wrote the Build (game engine), Build engine for 3D Realms, and later with Tim Sweeney (game developer), Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, who wrote the Unreal Engine.


Recognition


Games


References


Further reading

* David Kushner, Kushner, David (2003). ''Masters of Doom, Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture'', New York: Random House. .


External links

* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Carmack, John 1970 births Living people 20th-century American businesspeople 20th-century atheists 21st-century American businesspeople 21st-century atheists Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame inductees American aerospace businesspeople American aerospace designers American aerospace engineers American atheists American computer businesspeople American male bloggers American bloggers American software engineers American technology chief executives American technology company founders American video game designers American video game programmers Businesspeople from Kansas Businesspeople from Texas BAFTA fellows Emmy Award winners Facebook employees Free software programmers Id Software people People from Heath, Texas People from Johnson County, Kansas Texas Libertarians Virtual reality pioneers Game Developers Conference Lifetime Achievement Award recipients