How Ivan Sutherland Invented Virtual Reality in 1968

Ivan Sutherland virtual reality (VR)
VR-Head-Set of the 60's | © YouTube, Montage: filmpuls.info

Virtual reality (VR) is celebrating its birthday: it is turning a proud 50 years old. It was not invented by Google or Facebook. It was 1968. Here is the true story of Ivan Sutherland.

Even though the technology has been loudly touted to us as a groundbreaking innovation for the past few years, virtual reality has been around for decades. This is an opportunity. Because it allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.

You need to know

  • In order to be able to move around in a virtual reality data world, three prerequisites are necessary: interactive computer graphics, a suitable code language and software that can handle objects in space.
  • Ivan Sutherland, a computer graphics specialist, successfully built the first virtual reality headset on this basis in 1968. This was adopted by NASA for space purposes.
  • Even if only known in professional circles: Sutherland is now considered a VR pioneer. He is the actual inventor of virtual reality.

No 360 videos without virtual reality

The principle required for 360 Video is superficially based on a superficially simple idea. In order for humans to interactively move in a data world, a visual interface is needed. Not anymore. No less.

The realization of this interface, however, was a challenge. This required

  • first, the first interactive computer graphics program,
  • secondly, the first non-procedural programming language and
  • thirdly, the first object-oriented software system

be created. Ivan Sutherland, a computer graphics specialist, took on this triple challenge.

Ivan Sutherland, Digital Pioneer
Ivan Sutherland, Digital Pioneer

When Sutherland first presented his “Head Mounted System” to an astonished public, experts estimated that it would take several years to achieve. In fact, Ivan Sutherland had only begun work in 1967. Just twelve months later, in 1968, he had constructed a working headset for VR.

In an interview, Ivan Sutherland responded to the question of how his work had been possible in such a short time: “I gave myself a year to solve the problem, and I couldn’t have known how complicated it would get.”

Video: Head Mounted System by Ivan Sutherland for Virtual Reality from 1968

Ivan Sutherland schuf bereits vor 50 Jahren die Grundlagen für virtuelle Realität (VR) (mit Video)

NASA, the space agency, recognized the potential for virtual reality (VR). She further developed the system into a multi-sensory Virtual Interface Environment Workstation so that work in space could be trained in advance.

50 years after Ivan Sutherland, things are just getting started!

Ivan Sutherland is now considered a pioneer of VR 360 video. Rightly so. It is possible that his invention will contribute more than we can imagine to completely redefining our world in terms of entertainment, consumption and work in the future.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Volker Reimann
About Volker Reimann 26 Articles
Volker Reimann is a trend scout for virtual reality, games and interactive moving images. He is convinced that realistic projections directly into the human brain will soon be possible via targeted nerve stimulation.

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