Last september at the annual Proto Awards we were graced the with presence of a living legend, Dr. Ivan Sutherland the father of the head mounted display. Sutherland has made very few public appearances since the recent VR renaissance began, so this moment was all the more special but in the end it only felt fitting.
As a community VR stands on the precipice of something truly special, willing an entire new medium into existence. Of course that medium could not exist without the groundwork that was laid in creating the technology but as Sutherland poignantly said during his speech “the camera does not make movies, it allows movies to be made.”
“It is the creative people who put the content in that makes the technology real to people,” he continued to a round of applause from the crowd.
Right now we stand at a point in the industry’s history where the VR ‘printing press’ (the headsets) has essentially been built and we are waiting for “the novel… to be invented to fill the press,” as Sutherland put it. As we look forward this week during connect it is important to take a look back at how far we have come since the days even before Sutherland himself began tinkering on his Ultimate Display at Harvard. This timeline is only the beginning, perhaps you might create the next major innovation, that big “cut” moment, that novel invention that catapults a new technology into being a new medium.
So without further adieu, the illustrated history of VR: