- Richard Garriott and some friends start their own computer
programming course at Clear Creek High School. Their self-directed
project is to write a fantasy computer game.
- Richard takes a job at the local Computerland store, where Apple
II home computers are being sold. He decides to learn about the
Apple by writing programs in his spare time at the store. By the
end of the summer, he has produced a game he calls Akalabeth,
written in Applesoft Basic and read into the computer off of
cassette tapes. His manager suggests he make some copies and sell
them at the store.
- Unbeknownst to Richard, the store manager sends a copy of the
game to the California Pacific Computer company, a computer game
publisher. Richard signs a contract with CPC to distribute the
game. CPC distributes the game on 5.25" disks, and it sells over
- Richard enrolls in the University of Texas.
- Richard begins work on Ultima along with his friend Ken Arnold,
working out of his parents' bedroom closet.
- Richard joins up with the University of Texas chapter of the
Society for Creative Anachronism, meeting several of the friends
that would later become integral to the games.
- Ultima is published by California Pacific.
- The movie Time Bandits is released. Richard and his friends
visit the movie theatres repeatedly trying to copy the maps used in
the movie, and use the idea in the design of Ultima II.
- California Pacific goes out of business. Richard signs a deal
with upstart Sierra Online to
produce and distribute his games, because they are the only company
that will agree to including a cloth map with each copy.
- The first IBM PCs are sold.
- Ultima II is released for the Apple II.
- Sierra makes Richard a less than desirable deal on royalties
for a PC port of Ultima II. This leads Richard to begin thinking
about a new distributor.
- Richard drops out of full-time study at the University of
Texas, so that he can concentrate on work for Ultima III. He is
still working out of his parents' house in Houston.
- Chuck Bueche does the Atari 800 port of Ultima II for Sierra,
and meets Richard.
- Origin Systems is founded by Richard Garriott, Robert Garriott,
Owen Garriott (their father) and Chuck Bueche. Development is done
in Houston, and the financial affairs are handled through an office
at Robert's house in Andover, Massachusetts. Origin's official
address is: PO Box 99, Andover MA 01845.
- Origin hires its first outside employee, Jeff Hillhouse. Jeff
is also Sir Geoffrey in the later games.
- Robert moves to Londonderry, New Hampshire where his wife has
taken a job. Origin's official address becomes: 340 Harvey Road,
Mancester NH 03103.
- Origin releases Ultima III for the Apple II.
- Origin moves all of their development staff to the New
Hampshire office so that Robert won't have to commute so
- In September, Ultima IV is completed and released for the Apple
- Origin acquires the rights to Ultimas I and II, and begins
rewriting them for inclusion in the Ultima Trilogy.
- Origin moves most of its development staff to Austin and
changes its official address to: 136 Harvey Road, Londonderry NH
- Ultima V is released for the Apple II. It is the last Ultima
- Origin consolidates all of its offices in Austin, changing its
official address again: PO Box 161750, Austin TX 78716.
- The Nintendo version of Ultima III is released in Japan, amidst
a media blitz that sees Lord British splashed across billboards and
- Ultima VI is released for PC, marking the tenth anniversary of
the original Ultima.
- The Official Book of Ultima is
- Savage Empire is released.
- Martian Dreams is released.
- Stygian Abyss is released.
- Ultima VII is released, the last Ultima released independently
- Labyrinth of Worlds is released.
- Electronic Arts buys Origin.
- Serpent Isle is released.
- Origin creates a patch for Ultima VIII, which includes
significant changes to gameplay, plot, and control. The patch is
made available for free via the Internet. Shortly thereafter,
updated CD versions of the game appear in stores.
- In April, Origin holds the alpha test for Ultima Online.
Thousands of players participate in the largest Internet gaming
environment ever seen.
- Origin starts taking applications for the Ultima Online beta
test, scheduled to be held in 1997. Eventually, over 50,000 people
sign up and pay $2 to receive a copy of the beta CD.
- In an effort to get Ultima Online out the door, Origin shifts
all development personnel away from the Ultima IX project so they
can work on Ultima Online.
- In April, Origin launches the final version of the Ultima
Online web site.
- In June, Origin finally ships the CDs for the first phase of
the Ultima Online beta test. Only a few thousand CDs are sent
- In July, Origin ships the CDs for the second phase of the
Ultima Online beta test. Everyone, including those who participated
in the first phase, receives new CDs. The test lasts approximately
two months and involves thousands of players.
- In September, Origin ends the Ultima Online beta test and
officially releases the commercial version of the game. A great
deal of heated debate ensues regarding whether the game was ready
for release or needed more development.
- Approximate expected release date for Ultima IX:
- The 20th anniversary of Ultima!