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What’s the History of Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) refers to a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. The technology has been around for several decades, but it has only recently become more accessible and advanced, allowing for a wider range of applications and uses.

The origins of VR can be traced back to the 1950s, when Morton Heilig, a filmmaker and inventor, created the Sensorama, a machine that combined 3D images with smells, sounds, and vibrations to give users a more immersive experience. Heilig also invented the Telesphere Mask, which was one of the first head-mounted displays (HMDs), and the Cinematophone, which was a multi-sensory cinema experience.

In the 1960s, Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist and electrical engineer, developed the Ultimate Display, which was a VR system that used a computer to generate and project 3D images onto a screen that was mounted on a user’s head. Sutherland’s work laid the foundation for many of the VR systems that would be developed in the following decades.

In the 1980s, the concept of VR gained widespread attention with the release of the movie “Tron,” which depicted a computer programmer who is transported into a digital world. This sparked interest in the potential of VR technology and its applications in entertainment and gaming.

In the 1990s, VR technology advanced significantly with the development of more advanced HMDs, such as the Virtuality system, which used 3D graphics and motion-tracking technology to allow users to move around and interact with virtual environments. This technology was initially used for military training and simulation, but it soon found its way into the gaming and entertainment industries.

Today, VR technology has continued to evolve and improve, with the development of more advanced HMDs, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which use high-resolution displays and motion-sensing technology to create highly immersive VR experiences. VR is now used for a wide range of applications, including gaming, entertainment, education, training, and therapy.

Overall, the history of VR is one of continued innovation and advancement, as developers and researchers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with this technology. As VR becomes more advanced and accessible, it is likely that we will see even more exciting and groundbreaking uses for it in the future.

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