Why did Terry Davis believe God told him to create his own OS?
Can you imagine creating an operating system from scratch, on your own? Don’t worry about why you’d do something like that – we’ll get to that soon enough. Just picture taking on that Herculean task by your lonesome . . . and succeeding!
That’s what Terry Davis did, back in the early 2000s. The operating system, TempleOS, is still around admired by fans of its creator, as well as overall online rebels.
So why did Terry Davis decide to create his own operating system? And how did that achievement play out throughout the rest of his life? Let’s start at the beginning.
Terry Davis’s early years weren’t particularly extraordinary. An Arizona State University graduate, he started his career working for Ticketmaster in the 90s as a programmer. The seventh of eight children, Davis grew up Catholic, but became an atheist in his adult life. That is, until everything changed in 1996: Terry Davis started experiencing manic episodes and suffering from delusions about space aliens & government agents.
After years of deteriorating mental health, Terry Davis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and, later, schizophrenia. The programmer led a tough life as the world moved into the new millennium, constantly being admitted to psychiatric wards and ending up in jail at one point. In a 2014 interview with Vice, Davis reflected on how he “was genuinely pretty crazy in a way. Now I’m not. I’m crazy in a different way maybe.”
To better cope with his unstable mental condition, Terry Davis moved in with his parents in Las Vegas and started receiving Social Security disability payments. It was in this environment that the project which would eventually become TempleOS was born. It was here that Terry Davis found God!
Given his mental tribulations over the years, Terry Davis himself admitted to Vice that his eventual spiritual awakening could look like “mental illness, as opposed to some glorious revelation from God.” Still, that’s what Davis believed happened: he was told by God to build a temple to Him – a temple in the form of an operating system. Terry Davis worked on this temple for ten years, developing TempleOS.
The main purpose of TempleOS is, in fact, to help people communicate with God. Built within the operating system, Terry Davis designed AfterEgypt, an electronic oracle of sorts. Users of AfterEgypt can use the program to praise God for anything they want and, in return, they get a quote from the Bible. Interpretation of God’s words is up to each individual, much like Terry Davis did since his journey started.
Before AfterEgypt, Terry Davis communicated with God in a slightly more traditional way. At first, he’d just open the Bible on a random page and read from it. Once Davis realized he was getting too familiar with how to open the Bible to land on certain books, he added coin tosses to the process. The search for complete randomization eventually led to using a timer, which ultimately led to AfterEgypt.
New millennium prophet
Terry Davis’s schizophrenia made it difficult for him to spread the word of God. The passionate programmer was banned from several websites due to using homophobic and racist slurs. He would also post randomly-generated blocks of text – the word of God, to anyone who knew Davis’s process – and make off-topic religious declarations. Davis became persona non grata on Something Awful, Reddit, and Hacker News.
However, there was something irresistible about Terry Davis and his devotion to TempleOS. Even before the aforementioned Vice interview gave Davis the opportunity to show a gentler, more coherent side of himself, he started to get a fan following thanks to the hours of video blogs he would post. People started to see past the mental illness and appreciated the man’s programming skills.
The fact is you didn’t have to be a religious person to acknowledge Terry Davis was talented, or to recognize the magnitude of what he’d achieved with TempleOS. Still, while Davis told Vice he appreciated the attention, he also said he was disappointed most of his fans didn’t really use TempleOS to speak to God.
Terry Davis died on August 11th, 2018. He was hit by a train while walking along the railroad tracks in The Dalles, Oregon. His life had reverted to the rough goings of his early years, the pre-TempleOS era, as the programmer struggled with stretches of homelessness and incarceration. Davis had stopped taking medication, believing it limited his creativity.
The final video on Terry Davis’s YouTube channel serves as an odd sort of goodbye from a man who struggled with mental illness while having a very determined sense of purpose. In the video, Davis looks like he’s in bad shape, alludes to his homelessness and calls himself “an impure person”. But he also proclaims “It’s good to be king” as the vlog comes to a close.
Terry Davis was, indeed, a king of sorts. The online community’s reaction to the news of his passing was full of somewhat unexpected love for the controversial programmer and his work. Online tributes peppered the internet as Davis’s family used the TempleOS website to request people donate to “organizations working to ease the pain and suffering caused by mental illness.”
Were you familiar with the story of Terry Davis? Have you ever used TempleOS? Let us know in the comments!