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When was Virtual Reality Invented?

Virtual reality (VR) has become more than just a buzzword in recent years. It has revolutionized the way we experience entertainment, simulations, and even training. But when was virtual reality invented? Let’s explore the history and evolution of virtual reality technology.

Virtual reality, commonly abbreviated as VR, has rapidly gained popularity within the past years, offering us the chance to explore and interact with virtual environments in a seemingly realistic manner. VR is a technology that has become increasingly advanced and accessible, with numerous applications spanning across various fields such as gaming, education, and healthcare. However, when was virtual reality invented? This remains a commonly asked question, and in this article, we will delve into the history of virtual reality and its evolution over time.

The Early Days of Virtual Reality

The First VR Headset

The first VR headset was not invented in the 21st century as some might think, but rather in the 1960s. Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist, created the first VR headset called the Sword of Damocles. It was a bulky headset that rested on a mechanical arm above the user’s head, and it was used mainly for research purposes.


In 1962, Morton Heilig invented Sensorama, a machine that simulated a 3D environment using a display, speakers, and a vibrating seat. Sensorama allowed users to experience a virtual reality environment through all their senses, including smell and touch.

The Birth of Virtual Reality

The term “virtual reality” was first coined in the 1980s by Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist who founded VPL Research. VPL Research developed the first VR devices available for purchase, including the Data Glove, which tracked hand movements, and the EyePhone, which was a helmet that had two LCD screens for each eye.

Advancements in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1960s with the creation of the first VR headset, the Sword of Damocles, and the machine called Sensorama that simulated a 3D environment. With advancements such as the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, virtual reality has now found its place in various fields, including gaming, education, healthcare, and military training. However, challenges such as the issue of motion sickness and costs of VR devices still need to be addressed. With the potential for even more realistic and immersive experiences with advancements in technology, we can expect to see virtual reality technology being utilized in more industries and applications in the future.

The 1990s

The 1990s saw significant advancements in VR technology, with companies such as Sega and Nintendo releasing VR gaming consoles, but they were not successful due to the high costs and limited technology. However, NASA used VR technology for space simulations, and the medical field utilized it for training purposes.

The 21st Century

The 21st century saw a resurgence in the popularity of VR technology, with the rise of smartphones and advancements in technology. Oculus VR, founded by Palmer Luckey, developed the Oculus Rift, which was a VR headset that had a 110-degree field of view and low latency. The Oculus Rift was later acquired by Facebook in 2014.

Current State of Virtual Reality

Today, virtual reality is used in various fields, including entertainment, education, healthcare, and even the military. VR technology has improved significantly, with more affordable and accessible devices such as the PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. The gaming industry has embraced VR, with games such as Beat Saber and Half-Life: Alyx receiving critical acclaim.

Applications of Virtual Reality

The early days of virtual reality technology can be traced back to the 1960s with the invention of the first VR headset and the Sensorama. However, it was not until the 1980s that the term “virtual reality” was coined by Jaron Lanier, and VPL Research developed the first VR devices available for purchase. Throughout the years, the technology has advanced significantly, with more accessible and affordable devices available today. Virtual reality is now used in various applications such as gaming, education, healthcare, and military training. Despite the challenges of motion sickness and cost, the future of virtual reality is promising with advancements in technology.


Gaming is one of the most popular applications of virtual reality technology. VR gaming allows players to immerse themselves in a game world, making for a more realistic and engaging experience. VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest 2 and the PlayStation VR have made it more accessible and affordable for gamers to experience VR.


Virtual reality technology has also been used in the education sector. VR can provide students with an immersive and interactive learning experience, allowing them to learn about different subjects in a more engaging way. For example, students can explore historical sites or travel to different countries through VR.


Virtual reality technology has been used in healthcare for various purposes, including training healthcare professionals and treating mental health conditions. VR can simulate a realistic environment for medical professionals to practice procedures, and it can also be used to treat anxiety and phobias through exposure therapy.


The military has also used VR technology for training purposes. VR simulations can provide soldiers with a realistic training experience that simulates combat situations, allowing them to develop their skills and prepare for real-life situations.

Challenges and Future of Virtual Reality

Despite the advancements in virtual reality technology, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. One of the biggest challenges is the issue of motion sickness, which can occur when using VR devices. Additionally, the cost of VR devices can be a barrier to entry for some individuals.

The future of virtual reality is promising, with the potential for even more realistic and immersive experiences. Advancements in technology such as 5G and artificial intelligence could further enhance the capabilities of VR. As the technology becomes more accessible and affordable, we can expect to see more industries and applications utilizing virtual reality technology.

FAQs for When Was Virtual Reality Invented

What is virtual reality and how does it work?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with using special equipment, such as a headset and controllers. The technology works by immersing the user in a digital world that simulates real-life environments and experiences.

Who invented virtual reality?

The concept of virtual reality has been around for decades, but the first known VR device was called the “Sensorama” and was invented by Morton Heilig in 1962. The Sensorama was a prototype of a head-mounted device that displayed stereoscopic 3D imagery, with a wind machine, speaker system, and vibrating seat, to provide a multi-sensory experience.

When was the first virtual reality headset invented?

In 1968, Ivan Sutherland invented the first head-mounted display (HMD) which was called the Sword of Damocles. However, the device was not truly immersive as it was connected to a large computer and could only display simple wireframe graphics.

When did virtual reality become popular?

The 1990s saw a boom in VR popularity when several companies, such as Sega and Nintendo, released consumer VR devices. However, the technology was still limited in terms of graphics and processing power, and the devices were quite expensive.

How has virtual reality technology evolved over time?

Since the early days of VR, the technology has evolved significantly, with advancements in hardware, software, and graphics processing. Modern VR devices such as the Oculus Quest 2 and the HTC Vive Pro offer high-quality graphics and wireless connectivity, making the VR experience much more immersive and accessible than ever before.

What are the current uses of virtual reality technology?

Virtual reality technology is now used in a wide range of applications, from gaming and entertainment to education, training, and health care. It allows users to simulate real-world environments and experiences in a safe and controlled manner, making it a valuable tool for research, training, and therapy.

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