In the early 1980s, Garriott developed the Ultima computer game series (sequels were numbered, such as Ultima I, Ultima II and so on). Originally programmed for the Apple II, Garriott sold the games in ziplock plastic bags to interested parties. By the time he developed his third installment, the games had such a large following that Garriott (along with his brother, Robert, and father and others) established Origin Systems, a video game publisher, to handle the publishing and distribution of his title, now available on several platforms. Origin went on to become one of the most influential game developers in video game history.
Garriott sold Origin to Electronic Arts in September 1992. For the most part, this did not directly impact development from a gamer's standpoint. But in 1999 and 2000, turmoil became apparent when EA cancelled all of Origin's new development projects, including Ultima Online 2, Privateer Online, and Harry Potter Online. In the midst of these events, Garriott resigned from the company he had created. He returned to the industry by forming Destination Games in May 2001 with his brother and Starr Long (the producer of Ultima Online).