Professor M. A. R. Barker (Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman, November 3, 1930 - March 16, 2012) born Phillip Barker, was a game designer, linguist, and retired professor. Since the age of ten he has been developing the background, history, and lore of an imaginary world called Tékumel, and has run role-playing sessions set on Tékumel for over 25 years. In 1975, his game "Empire of the Petal Throne" became the first role-playing game published by TSR following the release of Dungeons and Dragons.
Barker was a Fulbright Scholar. He taught at the University of Minnesota, in the Department of South and Southwestern Asian Studies, where he taught the Urdu language, Arabic, and subjects relating to India and Pakistan. His reference materials on Native American languages was used by the producers of the Northern Exposure television series.
Since Tékumel has become so intricate and 'real', however, there is some debate over whether it really does exist in another 'pocket dimension', a dimension to which Professor Barker has more than casual access...
Phil died peacefully in home hospice on March 16, 2012.
Interview: M.A.R. Barker, Space Gamer (Issue 71 - Nov 1984).