Tim Sweeney is founder and CEO of Epic Games, the company behind the Unreal Engine as well as games such as Gears of War, Unreal Tournament, Infinity Blade and Fortnite. Sweeney started Epic in 1991 with the release of its first shareware game, and then wrote much of the first-generation Unreal Engine. He has led the company through the eras of PC, console and mobile gaming and now looking forward into the emerging worlds of free to play, virtual reality and augmented reality.
Sweeney attended the University of Maryland starting around 1989, where he studied mechanical engineering, though he was still fascinated by computers. Around this time, his father, who worked for the Defense Mapping Agency, gave him an IBM Personal Computer/AT. Sweeney established a consulting business, Potomac Computer Systems, out of his parents' home to offer help with computers, but it never took off and he shelved the company.
Later, Sweeney had the idea of creating games that could be sold, programming them at night or over weekends outside college work. This first required him to create a text editor based on the Pascal language to be able to program the game, which led to the idea of making a game out of the text editor itself. This became the basis of ZZT. He revitalized Potomac Computer Systems for selling ZZT, fulfilling mail orders with help of his father. ZZT sold well enough, a few copies each day that came to about US$100 per day, that Sweeney decided to make developing games his career. Recognizing he needed a better name for a video game company, he renamed Potomac Computer Systems to Epic MegaGames.
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