Virtual reality

Virtual reality

Computer-simulated environment simulating physical presence in real or imagined worlds.

Back in the late 50's the US military founded 3D technologies, which allowed companies to begin to explore what computers may accomplish. The first VR actually came about through Simulators and then it moved into Head Mounted Displays.

Fast Forward to the 1980's and early 1990's as computers became available to the masses and the advent of the Pentium chip, there was a leak of technology from the US military in to the hands of some research scientists and they managed to start what today has become a VR business in-real.

When Virtual Reality started to emerge in the early 90's as an actual possibility about a hundred of us across the planet immediately embraced the technology and got onboard with companies like KAISER, VirtualiO, Sense8, iWerks, and of course at that time APPLE did something amazing when they embraced some young scientists and let them free to develop Quicktime VR. QTVR became the seamless software for authoring and displaying both 360 imagery and also Objects. Macromedia Director became the wholesome inter construct for developing detailed and complicated multimedia VR presentations. At the same time of course there was the advent of VRML language, which unfortunately was not quite fit for purpose. VR WORX and great software from Shuffle and the likes of SEGA and NINTENDO came on board with Arcade driven experiences, which was soon picked up by VIRTUALITY who had one of the best HMD and VR gloves for the consumer arcade experience.Mulri screen immersion simulators from the likes of Digital Vehicles are still yet to be realised comparitively today.

Well the 90's rolled on and pioneering efforts were done for everything you see today. Industrial companies like Evans and Sutherland rolled out several experiences including the amazing virtual glider platform. New VR arcades opend in such as VR Sportsworld and VR Mountainworld and many independent began with motion chairs, walk-pads and exoskeleton devices.

What does this tell us today? Possibly that the computers of today are overburdened OS, consider back then you could have an HMD from Virtual iO with magnetic tracking and be happily immersed in the worlds of DOOM and MECHWARRIOR in full 360 on a system that had a Pentium 90 and only 16mb of RAM and a 128mb hard-drive!

in 1998 I explored 360 video with a Portland company called Immersive Media. Then in 1999 with Cyclomedia and a 70mmm system which was a giant precursor to today's 360 fly camera. I also had a go with Motorola and their massive 32 camera sphere capture system. I do want to give a nod to Helmut Dersch and his great pano-processing software creation which is still alive today as PTGUI and his ability to succesfully sue IPIX for a million dollars!

I continued to work with many companies that were making headway and we were all powerfully motivated as the beginning of the start-up to public offerings culture began on stock exchanges driven by the Internet and companies like CompuServe and AOL bringing email to the public.

Then came the great internet bubble crash of 2002 as the weak minded were duped by purely criminal promotions of ground-breaking technology promises. Luckily in 2000 at the QTVR conference in LA, I had met a young genius Michael Rondinelli who had developed an amazing mirror optic for seamlessly capturing 360x120 degree imagery and Video. We went on to captue some of the world’s first public 360 events through what was VRNEWS.TV and private applications including military use of 360 cameras. Also in the more recent past a nod to Ron Bakker of who had a close call of legal disagreement with YellowBird.

What we see today here in 2020 i sthe. pushof AR whilstin VR a lot of people reinventing the wheel and truthfully the graphic quality interfaces and production tools barely meet what was being done back then.

The issue being that the new generation wish to re-invent the wheel and the billions spent in the 80's and 90's and the good learning achieved was ignored by companies intent on declaring themselves inventors. Luckily I survive and have that knowledge and have plans to offer real value solutions and can transfer my knowledge to those that wish to avoid wasting time and money. Remember we were actually making money in all the sectors called today just in a much smaller manner. What I learnt is the nature of humanity to dive in head first without purposefulness looking to the past for guidance and truth of what we are and what we need.

Truth of VR prediction:

HMD will always be a limited audience of many variables. That projection will become the mainstay at home for the masses to have a VR experience.

That AI will be the realisation of efficient production tools due to the massive OS our computers are burdened with. That Hyper-spectral is the future of all VR imaging not lightfield.

Some applause for those of the past of the QTVR Association and people I grew to know like Robert West, Michael Shaff and Janey Fitzgerald and many others who were real pioneers in bringing immersive VR tours to the world, Ken Turkowski etc.

The list of those that made it happen, that we can today be where we are, is long and I write today to say thanks to all the coders and visionarys that allowed me into their worlds and inspired my own pioneering efforts.

The one story I like most is that I took a VirtualiO HMD and a windows 95 OS, tower computer to Vancouver Sick Children’s Hospital in Vancouver in say 1996, we went in to the Cancer ward, which was lovely enough, walls adorned with bright and happy imagery, the children were gathered and I began to demonstrate the system. We placed the HMD on children who could bare it and incredibly they became enlivened and when done remained in a state of positive manner for several days, talking and speking of its wonderful freedom. I am happy today to see this is beginning to be enacted, but not quote properly and fully yet!

Harken back my friend to a past time, that you may not miss sight of your future success.




Helmut Dersch


Michael Rondinelli


Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts






Apple Corporation

Steve Jobs

San Francisco

Software- 360



Software /Hardware GIS 360

Evans and Sutherland

Salt Lake City


Invert Adventures Inc

Christian Murray


Software -360



Software/Hardware 360

Kaiser Electronics







San Francisco

Software /Hardware

Telemersion Inc.

Brad Simon


Software/Hardware -360

Virtual iO




Harikumar J S
February 14, 2020
The Hindu
Keltron's Virtual Reality Lab in Thiruvananthapuram opens doors for a hands-on experience in the fast-emerging technologies of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality
February 7, 2020
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