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Richard Garfield was a doctoral candidate in combinatorial mathematics at University of Pennsylvania when he first started to design the game. During his free time he worked with local volunteer playtesters to help refine the game. He had been brought on as an adjunct professor at Whitman College in 1991 when Peter Adkison (then CEO of Wizards of the Coast games company) first met with Garfield to discuss Garfield's new game RoboRally. Adkison saw the game as very promising, but declined to produce it as Wizards of the Coast lacked the resources. He did like Garfield's ideas and mentioned that he was looking for a portable game that could be played in the downtime that frequently occurs at gaming conventions. Garfield returned and presented the general outline of the concept of a trading card game, based on his earlier game Five Magics from 1982. Adkison immediately saw the potential of this idea and agreed to produce it. Magic: The Gathering underwent a general release on August 5, 1993.

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