id Software


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The id logo used in the classic Doom games

id Software is a game developer based in Mesquite, Texas. It was founded on February 1, 1991 by four members of the computer company Softdisk, programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, and artist Adrian Carmack. They are the authors of Doom and Doom II, as well as numerous other well-known titles such as the Quake series of games, Wolfenstein 3D, and Commander Keen.

According to the book Masters of Doom, the name "id" came from the phrase "in demand". Later on, it was officially described by the company as "the primal section of the human psyche" which in Freudian psychology is responsible for instinctual and primitive impulses.[1]

The company underwent drastic personnel changes over the years; very few Doom-era principals remained there two decades later. On June 24, 2009, it was announced that id Software had been acquired by ZeniMax Media.


A Softdisk-era game by "Ideas From the Deep"

In 1989, John Romero and fellow Softdisk programmer Lane Roathe formed a group naming itself "Ideas From the Deep". In the wake of John Carmack's invention of the adaptive tile refresh technique for the PC's EGA graphics adapter, the three programmers teamed up with Tom Hall and Jay Wilbur, spending a weekend creating a prototype PC version of Super Mario Bros. 3 to propose to Nintendo. While Nintendo turned them down, the demo later attracted the attention of Apogee Software's Scott Miller, who agreed to have the team develop a new shareware trilogy using the same technology.

The members of Ideas From the Deep, still at Softdisk, began working after hours on what would become Commander Keen. During development, Lane Roathe left Softdisk, while Adrian Carmack also joined the team as an artist. Following the successful release of Commander Keen's shareware episode in December 1990, id Software was officially formed as an independent company, continuing to develop games for both Softdisk and Apogee. Jay Wilbur initially remained at Softdisk, but joined id during the development of Wolfenstein 3D.

Although id originally began by publishing games in other genres, such as the two-dimensional platformers in the Commander Keen series, the company became deeply involved in the creation of the first-person shooter genre early on. Their earliest efforts in 3D date back to the Softdisk era, with titles such as Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3-D. The first 3D game they made as an independent studio, Wolfenstein 3D, is often considered as one of the first FPSes, and a highly influential title in its own right. Doom popularized the genre and PC gaming in general, as well as pioneering multiplayer with its serial, LAN, and dial-up capabilities. Its successor Quake was the first shooter to have a client-server architecture for multiplayer.

id Software would remain one of the foremost independent game studios in the business into the 21st century, successfully negotiating with third party publishers and distributors, including GT Interactive and Activision, to bring their games to the public. This was carried out while simultaneously making significant revenue through licensing of John Carmack's powerful, bleeding-edge game engines to other studios (the series of which came to be retroactively known as "id Tech"). This era came to a close on June 24, 2009 when the co-owners reached an agreement to sell all stakes in the company to ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, which now serves as id's publisher.

The history of the individual members of id Software diverges at various points, as members resigned or were fired for various reasons. This began with the departure of Tom Hall during the development of Doom, the firing of John Romero after the release of Quake, and most recently (and publicly) the departure of John Carmack in November 2013. After leaving Softdisk, Lane Roathe continued using the company name "Ideas From the Deep" alongside Rebecca Ann Heineman, working primarily on Macintosh and Windows ports of games by Interplay Entertainment and Pangea Software.

Main franchises[edit]

As developer[edit]

As publisher[edit]

Doom-era employees[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. "id Software: Business." (archived 🏛). Retrieved 10 February 2016.

id Software - Doom era
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id Software - Doom 3 era
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id Software - ZeniMax era
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