John Carmack (born 1970) is a widely recognized figure in the video game industry. A talented programmer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Carmack co-founded id Software, a video game development company, in 1991. Carmack is noted for his aptness with 3D graphics and is recognized as a leading figure in the field.
John D. Carmack II grew up in Kansas City and became interested in computers at an early age. He attended the University of Kansas for two semesters before dropping out to work as a freelance programmer. Softdisk in Shreveport, Louisiana hired Carmack uniting him with John Romero and other future members of id Software. At Softdisk, they produced the first of the Commander Keen series of games in 1990 before Carmack and the rest of the team left to create id.
Carmack's programming skills enabled the development of the seminal first person shooter games Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, amongst others. Carmack's game engines are able to take maximum advantage of the developments in PC hardware quicker than other developers. He has invented several computer graphic algorithmic techniques, notably surface caching and Carmack's Reverse.
Recognized as a technical leader in the computer gaming world, Carmack's engines have been licensed and put to use in some of the most influential first person action shooter games in the genre's history such as Half-Life and Medal of Honor.
Next to Linus Torvalds, Carmack is probably the only other programmer who is recognized in public. Despite his fame and fortune, Carmack never seems to regard himself as anything but a technologist. When the source code to Quake had been stolen off of crack.com's servers, it circulated quickly among the Quake community underground. A young programmer who came upon the source code decided to port Quake to Linux, and sent the patches to Carmack. Instead of having the programmer arrested, id Software (at Carmack's behest) used the patches as the foundation for a company-sanctioned Linux port.
On March 22, 2001, Carmack was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon those who have made revolutionary and innovative achievements in the video and computer game industry.
Some of the recipients of Carmack's charitable contributions include promoters of open source software, opposers of software patents, aerospace research, and game enthusiasts. In 1997 he gave away one of his Ferraris as a prize in the Quake 1 "Red Annihilation" tournament.