John D. Carmack

(born August 20, 1970) is a widely recognized figure in the video game industry. A prolific American programmer, Carmack co-founded id Software, a computer game development company, in 1991. Carmack was the lead programmer of the highly successful id computer games Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, and subsequent sequels to Doom and Quake. His revolutionary programming techniques, combined with the unique game designs of John Romero, led to a mass-popularization of the first-person shooter genre (FPS) in the 1990s.

Though Carmack is best known for his innovations in 3D graphics, he is also a rocketry enthusiast and the founder and lead engineer of Armadillo Aerospace. He has aspirations of suborbital space tourism in the short term, eventually leading to orbital space flights.

Softdisk, a computer company in Shreveport, Louisiana, hired Carmack to work on Softdisk G-S (an Apple IIGS publication), uniting him with John Romero and other future key members of id Software such as Adrian Carmack (not related). Later, this team would be placed by Softdisk in charge of a new, but short-lived, bi-monthly game subscription product called Gamer’s Edge for the IBM PC (MS-DOS) platform. In 1990, while still at Softdisk, Carmack, Romero, and others created the first of the Commander Keen games, a series which was published by Apogee Software, under the shareware distribution model, from 1991 onwards. Afterwards, Carmack left Softdisk to co-found id Software, where he remains.

He has pioneered or popularised the use of many techniques in computer graphics, including “adaptive tile refresh” for Commander Keen, raycasting for Hovertank 3-D, Catacomb 3-D, and Wolfenstein 3-D, 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 shadow mapping) which he devised for Doom 3, and MegaTexture, used in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. While he was not the first to discover Carmack’s Reverse, he developed it independently.

Carmack’s engines have also been licensed for use in other influential first-person shooters such as Half-Life and Medal of Honor.

When Carmack was on vacation with his wife, he ended up playing some games on her cellphone, and he realized that the games weren’t any good. He then decided he was going to make a good mobile game. When he got back from his vacation he revealed that he had started working on Doom RPG.


  • In 1999, Carmack appeared as number 10 in TIME’s list of the 50 most influential people in technology.[2]
  • On March 22, 2001, Carmack became the fourth person to be 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.
  • In 2003, Carmack was one of the subjects of the book Masters of Doom, a chronicle of id Software and its founders.
  • In 2005, the film Doom featured a character named Dr. Carmack, in recognition of Carmack who co-created the original game.
  • In March 2006, Carmack was added to the Walk of Game, an event that recognizes the developers and games with the most impact on the industry.[4]
  • In January of 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, John Carmack and id software were awarded with two Emmy Awards. The Science, Engineering & Technology for Broadcast Television, which includes broadcast, cable and satellite distribution, and secondly, Science, Engineering and Technology for Broadband and Personal Television, encompassing interactive television, gaming technology, and for the first time, the Internet, cell phones, private networks, and personal media players. id Software is the very first independent game developer to be awarded an Emmy since the Academy began honoring technology innovation in 1948.[5]
  • In September 2007, Carmack appeared on Discovery Channel Canada Daily Planet, featuring his rocket designs along with the Armadillo Aerospace team.

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