The History of Interactive Media

Marketing no longer revolves around TV adverts or press releases. Interactive media has amazing potential to forge influential brand experiences, allowing consumers to fully submerge themselves in an interactive brand experience on a daily basis.

1930s – VR in Literature

In the English translation of Antonin Artaud’s collection of essays about the illusion of theatre published in 1938 called ‘Theatre and its Double’ the translator uses the first coinage the phrase ‘virtual reality’ in print.

The science fiction author Stanley G. Weinbaum in his novel ‘Pygymalion’s Spectacles’ also described virtual reality simulating real-life sensations in the 1930s.

1950s – The Sensorama and The Telesphere Mask

In the 1957 Morton Helig created the first virtual reality experience called the Sensorama his invention was later patented in 1962. The Sensorama was a mini theatre (similar to an arcade game) that would simulate touch, smell and taste. The simulation included a vibrating chair, smell generators, 3D motion picture and wind and constituted a major breakthrough in virtual reality design.

The Telesphere Mask was the first head-mounted display however this was not interactive. The VR headset gave the user Stereoscopic vision and sound and may have been the blueprint foSutherland’s later headset.

1960’s – The Headsight and The Sword of Damocles

The 1960’s marked a new dawn for VR headsets.Two engineers Comeau and Byran developed the HDM to include a motion tracking system. The headset also had a video screen which was linked to a camera system in 1961. This system was dubbed ‘The Headsight’

The Ultimate Display

Next Ivan Sutherland formed his ‘Ultimate Display’ concept which provided a framework for VR development as software that simulated real-life environments which users could interact with . A few years later in 1968 Sutherland invented the first augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD) called the Sword of Damocles, commonly called virtual reality glasses. This HMD used computer output and stereoscopy to create depth of vision. This model was so cumbersome that it had to be suspended from the ceiling so the user to wear the HMD. The virtual environment shown on this system were simple rooms.


In 1969 whilst studying at university, Myron Kruegere created artificial reality several environments using computer software collaborating with other computer science professionals. ‘Glowflow’ was one of these early programmes which featured light and sound which responded to users in the environment. The projects would contribute to Kruegere’s break-through project ‘Videoplace’ which gained recognition in the USA and Japan.

1980s – Virtual Reality Hits the Shelves

Virtual Reality gathered speed in the late 80s as Janon Lanier popularised the phrase ‘virtual reality’. Lanier’s company was the first company to sell Virtual Reality glasses (‘EyePhones’) and thus they catpulated the capabilities of VR into the public eye.

1990s – The Matrix and Big Brand Failures

The Nintendo Virtual Boy was set to become the world’s first portable VR games console success but the limited colour display meant that sales were poor. As a result the Virtual Boy was discontinued worldwide after just one year of sales and was the second-lowest Nintendo console.

In 1999 The Matrix film series put the capability of VR back into the realm of popular culture. The film creates a simulated world ‘The Matrix’ which simulates the real world so closely some characters are not aware that they are in this virtual world at all.

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