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History of Virtual Reality: How did VR begin?

While many people love spending their free time browsing the internet for cooking videos, online games (do you remember the make up games we used to play?) or Betvictor Promo Code, some people turn to it to find information about technology. Something that has been googled for so many times in the recent years is the topic of virtual reality. Virtual Reality might seem like a completely new concept, when in fact, there are decades and decades of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs behind the VR that we now know. If you wish to know how VR came to be, it’s important that you understand what VR really is. To put it simply, it can be defined as a way of tricking the brain into believing that something is real when in fact it isn’t. Modern engineers would define it as a combination of specially designed hardware and computer-generated images whose sole goal is to present certain sounds and sights as completely realistic. So with those definitions, we are ready to take a look at the history of VR and how it began. 

Where it All Began

Those interested in VR claim that the first attempts at creating images with the intention to imitate reality are in fact panoramic paintings from the 19th century.

However, the first major breakthrough that is crucial for the conception of VR happened in 1838, when Charles Wheatstone proved that each eye processes two-dimensional images that are later processed in the brain in three dimensions.

This was how stereoscopic images and viewers were made, and some of them were later used for “virtual tourism”. 

Another important event happened in 1929 when Edward Link created the first flight simulator. The “Link trainer” was completely electromechanical which was revolutionary at the time. We can see how this device might have spurred the imagination of scientists to create reality simulators that would be of great use. And the last trace of the early history of the VR concept can be seen in the literature. In Pygmalion’s Spectacles by Stanley G. Weinbaum from the 1930s, the writer talks about goggles that allow the person who’s wearing them to experience a fictional world through almost all senses. 

Sensorama And First VR Headsets

One of the greatest breakthroughs happened in the 1950s when Morton Heilig, a cinematographer, invented the Sensorama. This was a huge theatre-like cabinet made for one person that had all the equipment necessary to simulate all senses. Next to a vibrating seat, Sensorama also contained fans, speakers, 3D display, and more. Heilig also made six films for his device like the Motorcycle and Dune Buggy. Heilig went on to perfect his invention by creating the first HMD or Head Mounted Display in 1960. Even though this device didn’t engage all the senses like his previous patent, HMD is the first real predecessor or VR headset. 

OyundariZorigtbaatar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Then in 1961, Comeau & Bryan developed the Headsight. Even though this device was made for military purposes, it was another great step towards VR since it included a motion tracking system that was connected to a camera. 

The HMD and the Headsight inspired others to give their contribution to the concept of creating Virtual Reality.

After these two inventions, Ivan Sutherland talked about the concept of the Ultimate Display or the core on which VR was founded.

The 70s and 80s

Afterward, inventions in different fields were made, inspired by the concept of the Ultimate Display. Some examples include Furness’ Flight Sim, Furness’ Flight Sim, Artificial Reality, and others.

In 1975 The VIDEOPLACE was born, and today it is considered the first interactive VR system. Then in 1977, MIT created the Aspen Movie Map, a system that let people have a virtual experience of Aspen, Colorado. Also, in 1979 the first HMD set was made that was used outside the lab. A set of gloves used for finger-tracking, called Syre gloves, were developed in 1982.

All of these discoveries led to the VR that we know today. And it is expected that the work done on VR in modern times will result in mind-blowing headsets of the future.