Established in 1983 by a team of four - brothers Robert & Richard Garriott (Lord British), their friend & software coder Charles Bueche and their father & ex-NASA astronaut/engineer Owen Garriott. Initially based in the Garriot family garage in Houston, Texas, Origin would later move to offices in Austin, Texas before expanding their operation by setting up offices in New Hampshire also. After inception, Origin spent much of the next two decades developing and publishing successful game franchises, including Richard Garriott's legendary ULTIMA series and the innovative 3D space combat WING COMMANDER series.
Origin Systems was acquired by Electronic Arts in September 1992 for $35 million in stock after the company agreed to the deal in preference to a stock market launch. Notably, under the EA umbrella, Origin went on to release one of the earliest graphical massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), ULTIMA ONLINE, in 1997.
Buoyed by the early success of this online-only game venture, EA was firm in its belief that Origin would become an online-only game developer after the PC release of ULTIMA IX in 1999. Unfortunately, ULTIMA IX was met with a poor reception after years in development limbo and EA's insistence on releasing a buggy retail release that, despite receiving a patch months later, still left players with unresolved bugs.
The ULTIMA IX debacle effectively killed off the ULTIMA series and EA subsequently cancelled ULTIMA ONLINE 2 and all of Origins's other online projects in development. Founder Richard Garriott left Origin shortly after and established Destination Games with his brother Robert in 2000.
With many of the company's key protagonists having left for greener pastures, Origin spent its few remaining years merely providing customer support for ULTIMA ONLINE and offering expansion packs to that end. Another planned successor to its pioneering MMORPG - ULTIMA X: ODYSSEY - would, like the unreleased ULTIMA ONLINE 2, also be cancelled after its closure in 2004.
In February 2004, EA finally sounded the death knell and officially disbanded the once proud & omnipotent games software pioneer known as Origin Systems. RIP.