Time for a little inspiration: the story of Palmer Luckey
We all know that advances in technology in the last few decades have been monumental. It takes but a moment to send a message all the way to the other side of the world; you can search for just about anything on Google® and get an answer immediately; high powered computers cost a fraction of what they would have 30 years ago and they’re hundreds of times faster. On top of all that, virtual reality is well ... becoming a reality in a much more advanced way than was anticipated, especially based on previous attempts.
Virtual reality was limited to heavy, bulky devices that had some pretty severe deficiencies. One side effect may have been that using a device would make you sick to your stomach because of how jolted and slow the movements were. It wasn’t smooth, nor was it in any way advanced, but nobody could seem to get past that point ... until Palmer Luckey came along.
You probably don’t recognize the name Palmer Luckey, but it’s worth knowing. First, let me tell you a little bit about his background.
Palmer was born in Long Beach, California in 1992. He grew up there living with his mother, father, and three younger sisters. He was home schooled by his stay-at-home mother, and his father was a car salesman. As a child, he had an extreme interest in virtual reality, and the way that electronics worked. He was so fascinated with electronics that he’d end up taking devices apart and putting them back together, as well as making modifications to them.
From a relatively young age, he was experimenting with lasers, tesla coils, and many other things. As with any experiments, there were mishaps ... getting blown across the room a time or two included.
As young as 15, he started taking community college courses, then started attending California State University in 2010. With a journalism major, he wrote quite a bit for the university. On the side, he worked on prototypes for virtual reality, and eventually started working for a company that helped veterans get over PTSD with virtual reality simulations through a modified game called “Virtual Iraq.”
He eventually became obsessed with video games, but not the way the average teenage boy does. He wasn’t obsessed specifically with playing them; he was obsessed with how they worked, and the advancement in gameplay and fluidity of movements. He started to study it on a regular basis. This, of course, made sense since he was working toward developing a virtual reality device that would actually work with video games and mesh well with them; a truly immersive experience with a 360 degree field of view.
He’d buy used VR systems over the Internet for a fraction of the original cost, take them apart and piece them together. Even though he was buying them for a lower price, it was still expensive. So he taught himself basic technical knowledge, started purchasing broken iPhones®, and then fixed them and sold them. He made over $30,000 doing this. This made it possible for him to sustain his experiments.
In 2011, he started working with Mark Bolas, who’d been working on virtual reality systems for quite some time. Together, he and Palmer were able to create the Rift. This was the first prototype that had promise. Once they got it to a point where it was functioning, they decided to crowd-source fund it for further development. This turned into something much larger than they’d imagined.
They asked the public for about $250,000. In return for any donations over $300, Luckey sent the donor a prototype that they could use to develop the software for it. They not only exceeded their goal, they received nearly ten times that amount. From there, things only went up. Palmer Luckey was getting noticed, which ensured that he had the funding that he needed to make his dream come true. Even Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook®, saw the potential in what Luckey was doing. He went into the headquarters to try the Oculus for himself in 2014. Zuckerberg was very impressed. He was so impressed that he offered Luckey a $2 billion dollar deal. This was a no brainer for Luckey. He took the deal, and became rich almost instantly.
While Palmer Luckey may have become one of the wealthiest people at his young age, he hasn’t let it go to his head. People describe him as being kind, charismatic, and funny.
Palmer Luckey is an incredible individual. His imagination and perseverance helped him achieve his dreams much earlier in life than most people. He’ll also go down in history as the person that revolutionized virtual reality. That alone is an incredible accomplishment.
It’s my hope that his story will inspire others not to give up on their dreams, no matter how hard the going gets, because you never know what tomorrow holds. Your breakthrough could happen tomorrow. I’m sure Palmer Luckey didn’t see his success happening as quickly as it did.