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It took more than 50 years of innovation to create modern VR

It took more than 50 years of innovation to create modern VR

November 2, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon

November 2, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: VR, Design, Production, VRDC

“The long, slow evolution of virtual reality was marked by fits and starts, by staggering success and abysmal failure. It was a journey of secretive labs, bold experiments, game consoles and robot dogs. Its conceivers came from all schools of thought. They were writers, actors, philosophers, mathematicians, musicians, tinkerers and scientists.”

-Brian Crecente on his curated list of influential minds that helped create and develop virtual reality technology.

It’s sometimes easy to forget how long the road to virtual reality has been, and how many innovative creators it took through the years to get modern VR headsets into the hands of players and game developers. 

A recent story from Polygon seeks to capture more than 50 years of that history with a detailed list of 25 influential minds that made the relatively recent market for in-home VR experiences even remotely possible. 

A few of the faces on this timeline of historic VR influencers might be familiar, but there’s still a lot modern game developers can learn from reading about the different kinds of people and processes that carried virtual reality technology from its first inception to its current form. 

“There is a direct line that can be drawn from Mort Heilig’s 1958 Sensorama to Palmer Luckey’s 2016 Oculus Rift. It’s a line that passes through four eras of virtual reality, that swims through the think tanks of MIT, Atari, NASA and the University of Southern California,” said Crecente.

“It is through this baton pass of knowledge from mentor to student, seen over and over again across decades of research, that virtual reality finally got a name, finally came into its own and inevitably found a marketplace among gamers, gadget owners and, perhaps one day, everyone else.”

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