By Lev Grossman
How a 19-year-old hacker behind Oculus Rift set out to invent a gaming headset but ended up reviving a dead technology and building a global communications platform, worth $2 billion to Facebook in a surprise deal announced this week
Luckey wasn’t the only person who still cared about virtual reality, but he almost was. There was a small community of true believers, less than a hundred, who hung out on a web forum called MTBS3D to talk about it. (MTBS stands for “meant to be seen.”) Luckey was one of them. John Carmack was another.
Carmack thought VR had potential too, in spite of all the failures, and every few years he would check in on the state of the art to see if it was usable yet. In April 2012, Carmack was tinkering with a VR headset made by Sony, and he posted about it on MTBS3D. Luckey responded. He told Carmack about his own prototype, and Carmack said he’d like to buy one. Luckey was in awe. “You cannot take money from Carmack,” he says. “It would be like if Jesus said, Give me your clothes.” He sent Carmack the prototype, his only working model, for free, via regular mail.
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