As it turns out, the game almost didn’t happen. In 1991, Wizards of the Coast was busy printing roleplaying games and supplements, and operated out of Peter Adkison’s basement. Adkison was the owner and CEO of Wizards when he was approached by Dr. Richard Garfield, a doctoral candidate in combinatorial mathematics. Garfield was interested in having Wizards publish his “RoboRally” board game design.
Adkison liked RoboRally (and would later produce it through Wizards) but he felt at the time that Wizards didn’t possess the resources or technical know-how to produce a board game. He asked Garfield to instead come up with a simple game that could be played in minutes, and that was portable enough that people could play it while “waiting in line at conventions.”
Garfield went back to his workshop and emerged with the very first version of the game we now know as Magic.