Tom Hall, the man behind the fictional world of Commander Keen, came up with the idea in 1990, after John Carmack, one of his co-workers at Softdisk ltd, devised a revolutionary smooth-scrolling technique for platform games. With this piece of ground-breaking software on their hands after Nintendo had rejected it, they decided to create their own original platform game. After a brief brainstorming session, Tom Hall produced the scenario for Commander Keen: An eight-year-old boy genius builds an interstellar ship from junk around his backyard, dons his brother's football helmet and embarks on a mission to save the Earth from galactic injustice with the aid of his trusty pogo stick!

These days, Tom Hall no longer works for id Software, the company that arose on the wave of success that Commander Keen created, but for his own breakaway group of rebels, "Monkeystone".

Here's what Tom Hall, president of Monkeystone, had to say when we asked him about Commander Keen's origins:

So we went right to the next best source: John Carmack himself.

"After I had given Tom a few ideas, he came up with the whole scenario for Cap- er, Commander Keen, and we got the game underway. But since none of us were terribly skilled with graphics, we decided to actually use photographs of a real life actor to make the graphics of Keen running and jumping and shooting and so on."

"Well, Tom and I contacted various people about kid actors and whatnot, but nobody seemed interested. It wasn't until we were passing through Milwaukee after a cross-country trip to meet with some other people that we actually found Billy Blaze. Yeah, we were in this computer store, looking at magazines and stuff, when this kid wearing a huge, yellow football helmet comes bouncing in on a pogo stick. Tom and I just looked at each other for a few seconds, like we thought we were hallucinating - here was our computer game concept, come to life! So we got in touch with the kid's parents, with Billy's parents Arthur and Susan Blaze, and, before you know it, we had graphics. It was just so unlikely."

With the release of "Marooned on Mars", episode one of Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons on December 14, 1990, the PC gaming world was taken by storm. Nobody had seen so sophisticated - or enjoyable - a game on a PC before. Commander Keen, and his real-life representative Billy Blaze, whose name was also given to the fictitious Commander Keen, became stars, literally overnight.

Less than two months following the emergence of Commander Keen, id Software was formed by a number of Softdisk employees, who, having completed the Vorticons series had plans to continue Keen in another series. However, due to contractual obligations, another Commander Keen game had to be produced for Softdisk. It was called Keen Dreams.

With greatly improved graphics and overall gameplay, Keen Dreams was an instant hit. The absence of Keen's pogo stick was largely ignored by Keen's loyal legions of fans, initially. But soon, the dream began to fade. id Software was forced to wake up to reality.

No, no, not REALITY!

So they created a new series of Commander Keen and released it in February, 1992. It was called Goodbye, Galaxy!

Where the release of the Vorticons series had taken the world by storm, Goodbye, Galaxy took the world by hurricane.