First flight simulator
The Link Trainer, a mock airplane fuselage mounted on a platform, simulates the sensation of flying well enough to train half a million military pilots on safety exercises during WWII.
First computer aided VR efforts
Morton Helig invents the Sesorama, one of the earliest VR systems.
First head-mounted VR display
Ivan Sutherland invents the “Sword of Damocles” – a giant, head-mounted VR display.
The first “virtual tour”
A project out of MIT results in a simple virtual tour, called a “movie map”, which allows users to wander the streets of Aspen, Colorado, using computer controls.
Digital imagery evolves
Out of NASA’s JPLG Lab, David Em uses early image-editing software to create the image “Aku.”
The Large Expanse, Extra Perspective (LEEP) optical system, created by Eric Howlett, uses a steroscopic image with a wide field of view to lend depth of field and realism to imagery – the basis of later VR imaging.
“Virtual Reality” coined
Computer Scientist Jaron Lanier founds VPL Research, which develops several early VR devices, and popularizes the term “Virtual Reality.”
William Gibson publishes his iconic novel, a science fiction story featuring a Virtual Reality dataspace called the “matrix.”
An online virtual world is born
Habitat, “a massively popular multiplayer role playing game,” was created by Randy Farmar and Chip Morningstar and made available as a beta test by Quantum Link, an online service for the Commodore 64.
1991-1992: Personal use becomes a reality
The first in-home VR headset, immersive VR movie and functional augmented reality come out of Sega, MIT and NASA – bringing VR one step closer to personal use.
Gaming VR grows more sophisticated
Sega releases the Sega VR-1 motion simulator arcade attraction, which tracks head movement and offers sophisticated graphics in stereoscopic 3D.
The film that launched the public fascination with VR and AI is released in theaters and grosses over $460M worldwide.
Partly based on work done by Mark Bolas at USC, Palmer Luckey designs the first prototype of the Oculus Rift. Later Facebook purchases Oculus VR for $2B.
Ready Player One
Book published by Ernest Cline transporting readers into a worldwide Virtual Reality game.
Valve Corporation shares its breakthrough, low-persistence displays, which enable smear-free VR content.
Gaming advances the game
Sony announces Project Morpheus, which becomes the PlayStation VR headset
Facebook purchases Oculus VR for $2B
Google announced the DIY stereoscopic viewer Cardboard, used with a smartphone to enable a personal VR experience
The VR boom is here
As of 2016, there are at least 230 companies developing VR-related products. All of the big new-media players have dedicated AR and VR groups.
The first major commercial release of sensor-based tracking in a VR headset is launched with VIVEs StreamVR product.
Walmart becomes the first company to use VR to train 100K+ associates across 200+ Academies.
Experience on Demand published
Jeremy Bailenson makes 20 years of VR research accessible.
Oculus for Business announced
Facebook starts enterprise-focused VR team.
Immersive Learning at scale
Walmart training over 1M associates using VR.