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Id Software’s John Carmack Shares Stories About Steve Jobs

Id Software co-founder John Carmack shared some memories of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Facebook Monday.

“As a teenage Apple computer fan, Jobs and [Steve] Wozniak were revered figures for me, and wanting an Apple 2 was a defining characteristic of several years of my childhood,” Carmack wrote. “Later on, seeing NeXT at a computer show just as I was selling my first commercial software felt like a vision into the future.”

Once Id Software titles like “Commander Keen” and “Wolfenstein 3D” started earning money, Carmack said the first major personal purchase he made was an Apple NeXT computer. It was genuinely valuable for the studio’s software development, he said, and he moved the entire company onto NeXT hardware.

“We loved our NeXTs, and we wanted to launch ‘Doom’ with an explicit ‘Developed on NeXT computers’ logo during the startup process, but when we asked, the request was denied,” he said.

Jobs later changed his mind about the branding, but “that ship had sailed,” Carmack said.

“Several things over the years made me conclude that, at his core, Steve didn’t think very highly of games, and always wished they weren’t as important to his platforms as they turned out to be. I never took it personally,” he added.

Carmack was later brought in to talk about the needs of games in general on the Apple platform, and he said he made it his mission to get the company to adopt OpenGL as its 3D graphics API.

“I had a lot of arguments with Steve,” Carmack said. “It was often frustrating, because he could talk, with complete confidence, about things he was just plain wrong about, like the price of memory for video cards and the amount of system bandwidth exploitable by the AltiVec extensions.”

“But when I knew what I was talking about, I would stand my ground against anyone,” he added.

Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in 2003. He died in 2011 at the age of 56. Carmack said as the public story of Jobs’ failing health progressed, he tried to write several emails to say something meaningful and positive “but I never got through them, and I regret it.”

“I corroborate many of the negative character traits that he was infamous for, but elements of the path that led to where I am today were contingent on the dents he left in the universe,” he said.

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