Most people assume that the idea of virtual reality has only existed for the past 5 years or so, but that is just not true. It has been around for a while, perhaps even as long as sixty years. The virtual reality timeline may start long before you think it does. The first mentions of the technology come from science fiction novels, and we are lucky to live in an era where science fiction can easily become reality. The first device for virtual reality was actually built in 1952 and was called the Sensorama. It was a screen that people would sit in front of, and believe it or not, it was mechanical, not digital. There were 3d images, sounds and even scents that would help to make the experience more realistic.
Between 1970 and 1990 there was actually a thriving VR industry but it looked very different from the one that we have today. It was primarily focused on flight simulations, military training and car design, not personal entertainment. In the mid 80s, the power glove was released, which worked with the Nintendo gaming system that was popular at the time. It allowed users to use their hands to control some of the motions of the characters on the screen. However, it was somewhat bulky, complex and a bit hard to figure out for most consumers.
In the 90s, consumer virtual reality sets were released, but with hefty price tags of about $73k they were not very popular. It wasn’t until 2010 that the dream of virtual reality finally became, well, reality with the testing of a new prototype by the company Oculus Rift, and we all know what happened after that. Many major technology companies have since released innovative virtual reality headsets with different features and ideas. Soon virtual reality is expected to catch on big for the first time, a trend which was predicted to happen back in the 1990s!