History of virtual reality. Where do VR glasses come from?

The Oculus Rift isn’t the first attempt to suck us into the Matrix. Such devices were created, but they did not break through – they were heavy, expensive, underdeveloped, and computer graphics were not as advanced as they are today. Who failed to pave the way for Oculus’ success?


Virtual reality equipment is older than computer graphics! In 1962, Morton Heilig created Sensorama – a device that gave the illusion of being in a different reality through short films projected in front of the user’s eyes.

Sensorama by Morton Heilig (Interview).mov


If you only associate Sutherland’s name with the actor playing Jack Bauer, absorb this knowledge: Ivan Sutheraland, the father of computer graphics, introduced Ultimate Display in the mid-1960s. virtual reality due to its size and weight was attached to the ceiling, thanks to which it was called … the Sword of Damocles.

Ultimate Display

Ultimate Display


Silicon Valley begins to work on its legend. Not only computers are developing, but also virtual reality. In 1977, Dan Sandin presented a landmark invention – a glove controller that allowed the user to interact with virtual objects.

Dan Sandindo's glove for handling virtual objects

Dan Sandindo’s glove for handling virtual objects

More than a quarter of a century later, this invention will be synonymous with a futuristic interface with Hollywood, as evidenced by Tom Cruise waving his hands in Minority Report.

Content Agility 2013 – Minority Report UI [Congility]

Do you think Google Street View is a modern invention? Nothing could be further from the truth! In the 1970s, the American city of Aspen was completely transferred to the computer. Three-dimensional models of each object were created and the problem of then imperfect graphics was solved by photographing the entire city from countless shots.

After layering the photos onto three-dimensional solids, Aspen went virtual reality as the Aspen Movie Map.

Aspen Movie Map

The 80s.

Shortly after, the ancestor of Kinect was created, that is, a camera that transfers lower movements to virtual reality. In the early 1980s, Myron Krueger started a virtual reality lab called Videoplace. The user could interact with virtual objects without the mediation of additional controllers – their role was played by his body.

Videoplace (1985)

Pop culture is interested in the topic – in 1982 the film “Tron” is made, and William Gibson in the novel “Neuromancer” for the first time uses the term cyberspace. Shortly after, the subject is explored creatively by Stephen King. How was VR imagined? It can be seen in the adaptation of “Reaper of minds”.

THE LAWNMOWER MAN, Brett Leonard, 1992


Virtual reality is attracting more and more interest. Steve Mann creates the ancestor of Google Glass, Jaron Lanier founds VPL Research, the first company to design VR glasses and gloves, and NASA also creates its own environment and devices to operate it.

1980s Virtual Reality – NASA Video

In 1991, the Amiga presented the distant ancestor of the Oculus Rift. Wealthy gamers can purchase one of the 300 kits produced – an environment called 1000CS running on the Amiga 3000 is served by the player’s body, which has a VR headset on its head and sits on a special platform, surrounded a ring of sensors that track its movements. Equipment costs a fortune – 60 thousand. dollars.

Long before Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony Playstation VR, Amiga had VR 1000CS

The entertainment industry is discovering the potential of virtual reality. Major manufacturers are trying to bring their own devices to market – the Atari Jaguar VR headset, Sega VR are being created, and Nintendo is introducing Virtual Boy. Devices such as the VFX1, CyberMaxx have limited success, but virtual reality is an effective margin of the entertainment industry.

Sega VR

virtual boy

virtual boy



21st century

With the new era, attempts are multiplying: devices like the SV-6 PC Viewer from Microoptical or the VR glasses from Laster Technologies are leading the way.

In 2009, Nokia Research Center presented AR glasses with an eyeball-controlled interface, and two years later the prototype of the Oculus Rift – a device that sparked popular interest in virtual reality – appeared two years later. late.

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