History of VR

Virtual reality is coming, right? Or has it been here for over a hundred years?

In 1838 Charles Wheatstone’s research created the stereoscope. He found that two flat images looked at through each eye could produce a three dimensional experience. One hundred years later, William Gruber created the View Master, which included disks containing pairs of small photos giving the view a stereoscopic view. Then in 1962, Morton Heilig patented the Sensorama. This was a full VR experience with sound, smells, and a vibrating chair. At about the same time, Heilig created the first head mounted display (HMD) for VR. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland created the Ultimate Display, which he claimed viewers would not know the difference between reality and virtuality. His ideas would have a lasting influence on the VR that is being created today. These were all before the phrase “virtual reality” was even coined.

Jump forward to 1993 (and past many other VR experiements), the Sega Genesis was released. This VR headset look very similar to what we have today, but it did not last. Same with the 1995 Nintendo Virtual Boy. Should have been no surprise, I mean, who would want to wear those headsets?

So, why is everybody talking about VR today? Why would I want to wear those headsets today? Why are you reading this blog?

Will VR last or fade away again? Google, Samsung, Facebook and all the big players are betting big, but the market will decide. I will tell you this, if I’m walking down Fifth Avenue looking for a store, I’m not going to quickly pull out my headset and do a search; I’ll just pull out my mobile phone. But, if I want to learn or buy something from the comfort of my own home, then maybe I’ll go with VR.

What do you think? VR has been around for over a hundred years and hasn’t really hit the mainstream. Will it stick or will something better come around?



2 thoughts on “History of VR

  1. I think the fact that you can stick your mobile phone into a Google Cardboard (and that device costs only $20) has a lot to do with it. Of course, the advancement of technology over the years has reached a point where quality virtual experiences are more feasible.
    In terms of popularity, when Facebook jumped onto the bandwagon, everyone took notice. I think when Sony launches its headset for the PlayStation, VR will spike in popularity yet again.


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