Everything Worth Knowing About … Virtual Reality

Evolution of the Multi-Metaverse

1935 “Pygmalion’s Spectacles,” a short story, features a holographic immersive experience.

1950s Sensorama, a phone-booth-like machine combining 3-D film, sound and smells, amounts to little more than a fad.

1984 William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer introduces the “matrix,” a VR space populated by humans and artificial intelligence.

1989 VPL Research introduces the data suit, which includes sensors all over the body and a bulky headset that turns sensory data into an immersive virtual experience.

1990s Online users flock to text-based virtual worlds. Early VR games, including Dactyl Nightmare, begin appearing.

1992 Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash showcases the Metaverse, a virtual mega-reality where people connect through the internet.

2000s Engineers create room-sized boxes that combine sound and projected images with headsets to make immersive virtual spaces.

2003 Launch of Second Life, an online 3-D fantastical facsimile of the real world.

2014 Launch of Google Cardboard, a cheap headset that turns a user’s smartphone into a VR platform.

2015 SpatialOS debuts, a platform for coders to create seamless virtual worlds for thousands of gamers.

2016 High Fidelity, a company from Second Life designer Philip Rosedale, launches a new VR platform for world-building.

2016 Wide release of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, high-powered consumer headsets that let users move around in a VR environment.