Blog Post #4 – ls virtual reality/augmented reality positive to humans?

What is the history of virtual/augmented reality and how has it advanced?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my inquiry project. In my last blog post, I spoke about what constituted virtual/augmented reality and helped define and explain it to people who didn’t know. Today, I will be delving into the history of this technology and how it has moulded and changed over the years.

The very first glimpse into the concept of VR was back in 1838, with the invention of stereopsis, a concept developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone. This early revolutionary discovery demonstrated that the brain took multiple photographs, one with each eye, into account for vision, creating the immersion of three dimensions and depth. This information allowed Wheatstone to invent the first stereoscope, with two mirrors reflecting an image 45 degrees to the eyes [1].

A more immersive attempt at VR came in 1929, with Edward Link’s “Link trainer”, the world’s first-ever flight simulator. Controlled entirely by electromechanical parts that allowed it to mimic air disturbances and turbulence, the “Link trainer” was revolutionary to the sector, with the US military employing more than 10,000 “Link trainers” to help train over 500,000 pilots during the Second World War [8].

The View-Master, a new and improved stereoscopic device was then released in 1939 [7]. Intended as an “alternative to the scenic postcard”, the View-Master used a simple blueprint of a few mirrors to create the illusion of 3D and a small cardboard disc which contained a film of colour photographs which users could sift through [6]. If you didn’t have one of these when you were young, where were you?

While the advances in “VR” leading up to the 1950s were intriguing, the first true foray into our modern idea of VR was in 1957, with the invention of the “Sensorama”. Created by a cinematographer named Morton Heilig, the large machine provided users with a feast for the senses, including oscillating fans for your sense of touch (wind), a screen for your sense of sight, smells for your olfactory sense, and speakers for your sense of hearing [5]. Considered the “future of cinema” by its creator, the Senorama set out to fully immerse the user in films with vibrations, scents, and stereoscopy [1].

If we jump ahead to 1968, we will see that another large jump has occurred in our favourite sector. The “Sword of Damocles”, created by Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull was released this year and was the first-ever HMD [3]. If you remember from my last blog post, this stands for “Head Mounted Display” and is essential to our modern concept of VR and AR. While it could only display wire-frame shapes and was too heavy to be comfortably worn, it is an integral piece to the history of this technology [4].

If you read my other blog post, you would also be aware of the massive part gaming has to play in the VR/AR sector. Before the PSVR and Occulus Rift, gamers had Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. While this flimsy 1995 console was deemed a commercial flop by almost everyone, it was no doubt ahead of its time [1]. While it lacked any true colours, displaying only red and black, and costed a cool 180 USD (which at the time was quite a bit), it was still a landmark moment for the industry because it was the first time consumers were able to experience virtual reality gaming with their favourite characters, such as Mario [5].

In 2010, the true beginning of what people nowadays know as “virtual reality” finally took shape. This was the year that Palmer Luckey designed the prototype for the Oculus Rift headset [3], the predecessor to arguably the best-selling HMD of all time, the Occulus Quest 2. The headset was a dramatic step up, featuring a revolutionary 90-degree field of view and computer-processed images, and was launched on Kickstarter to gain funding. In 2012, the campaign had already gained over 2,400,000 USD, and in 2014, was bought by Facebook for 2,000,000,000 USD. Because of Facebook’s immense budget and focus on VR and AR research, the development and improvement of the technology quickened exponentially after this acquisition [1].

While there have been numerous improvements on the standard VR/AR formula over the years with the introduction of many different products, such as Playstation VR by Sony and the commercially focused AR glasses, Google Glass [2], the blueprint has stayed relatively the same since 2010. The sector has yet to find a better alternative to the design introduced by Palmer Luckey all those years ago. From now on, companies will be striving to make their head-mounted displays smaller and smaller, until all VR headsets are the size of their AR brethren, as well as more independent of computers [5]. But will the development of this fascinating tech ultimately prove detrimental to the human species? Find out in my next blog post!



[1] Barnard, D. (2022, October 6). History of VR – timeline of events and tech development. VirtualSpeech.
[2] Glass. (n.d.). Glass – Google. Retrieved 5 December 2022, from
[3] GlobalData Technology. (2020, January 29). History of virtual reality: Timeline. Verdict.
[4] Poetker, B. (2019a, August 22). G2. A Brief History of Augmented Reality (+ Future Trends & Impact).
[5] Poetker, B. (2019b, September 26). The Very Real History of Virtual Reality (+ A Look Ahead). G2.
[6] Sell, M. A. (2022, October 4). Focusing on view-master history and values. Antique Trader.
[7] The Franklin Institute. (2016, October 21). History of virtual reality. The Franklin Institute.
[8] Virtual Reality Society. (n.d.). History of Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality Society. Retrieved 5 December 2022, from

4 Replies to “Blog Post #4 – ls virtual reality/augmented reality positive to humans?”

  1. Hello Victor!
    Nice blog post! I’ve been following your blog post this semester since your Blog Post #1 because it is so interesting to me. I have always related VR with modern technology, and it is super interesting to learn its background history, too! My question is: Would VR be as revolutionary as cell phones?
    Here are a few websites that you might find helpful:


  2. Hi Victor!

    I love your topic, it is unique and fascinating! As I read through your post, I noticed so many interesting notes, details, and facts. I like how you used a timeline to help your research, it creates a well organized structure to your post. One fact that intrigued me was the invention of stereopsis developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone. I am astonished that the information from stereopsis allowed Wheatstone to invent the first stereoscope. As I read through, this breakthrough by Wheatstone, has come a long way and has led to VR gaming and so many other interesting inventions!

    Here are 2 resources to help with your research:

    Good luck with the rest of your research 🙂

    – Rhea :))

  3. Hello Victor!

    I am absolutely loving the detail you put into each and every blog post and how they perfectly fit together. One thing I enjoyed about this blog post in particular was the intricate timeline regarding VR/AR and how far that has come since the beginning. It is truly a fascinating topic that I haven’t yet learned in depth before reading your blog posts! I would thoroughly enjoy seeing a timeline of what exactly VR headsets would look like in the future. Structured much like this one with extensive research as to what this technology will be able to do one day with future technological advances.
    Below I have listed a few helpful resources.

    Great job thus far, I cannot wait to see what is next to come!

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