Nintendo’s 1995 Virtual Boy was a whole cartridge based game system inside a desktop-mounted-head stereoscopic immersive display. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi of Gameboy fame, and offered for $180 retail, the market was less than kind. It was withdrawn from the market in less than a year and now can still be found late in the day at weekend garage sales.
The actual displays were unique, a rapidly vibrating linear array of 224 red leds. The array was vibrated at 55 hz, sweeping out a dim red raster. The concept was borrowed from Reflection Technology which had introduced a monocular augmented reality head mounted display in 1990.
Needless to say, Nintendo dumped Yokoi despite his success with Gameboy, and he died in a car wreck a year later. In many ways the Virtual Boy also put the final nail into the 90’s VR craze.
This final segment from AT&T’s 1993 Vision of the Future isn’t too far from what’s happenin’ here in 2010, but 17 years later, AT&T is still not a player.
Jaron walks us through all eleven reasons, from Gates Envy to Movie Projectors. Strangely enough I agree!
This looks like the closest thing yet to a real-life holodeck! The Virtusphere is (as the name suggests) a large hollow sphere which sits on a set of computer monitored wheels. This allows the sphere to rotate a complete 360º whilst still allowing the computer to track the movments. For more information please visit www.hack247.co.uk
The ill fated GamePro TV did a 1991 “Cutting Edge” feature on the original Virtuality arcade systems, including footage from their premier multi-player Dactyl Nightmare title. Be careful not to fry your eyeballs on host J.D. Roth’s outfit; did anyone actually dress like this? Roth incorrectly attributes the system to Spectrum Holobyte, who was for a short time, one of four US distributors for Virtuality systems. Did the revolutionary (for 1991) Virtuality system really need this infomercial?
Flashback to 1992. My Silicon Graphics rep, Len, walks in the door with a guy from Sportland, a mega entertainment center down near the auto-malls north of Philadelphia. You know: pizza, birthday parties, arcade games, bumper cars, tokens, and more tokens. They’re both hyped on the potential of VR in the arcades (I thought that hype was supposed to be my job.) I was pitched on the idea of investing my sweat and money, as they were going to franchise something and make millions (billions??) The warning lights were blazing, so I settled for a cash-on-the-barrel development contract. Len arranged to lend this guy a tricked out SGI system and vouched for the helmet loaner from Virtual Research. Six weeks later the Voyager started raking in the millions at Sportland.
Fast-forward to 2 months later. Len’s been knocking on Sportland’s door for a month trying to get a purchase order for the loaner computer and Virtual Research calls me daily to see where the hell their loaner helmet was. Finally, Len and a couple of burly confederates charge into Sportland during operating hours and carry off the SGI, monitor, and VR helmet.
Read the Voyager Investors Information Kit. With cash flow like that, Len must have been crazy to shut ’em down.
On it’s way to the Whistlestop, this VR system (1 of 10 on tour) makes a stop at Louisville’s channel 32 early, early morning show. Perfect makeup notwithstanding, I don’t think the host was thinking that anything below the belt would be on camera. She wore the wrong skirt, for sure. These VR systems were promoting an intoxicant dubbed Aftershock. Scott, who wrote the code for the VR game speculated that the stuff was intended for sterilizing combs. Nonetheless, the combo of VR and shooter girls at the thousands of bars this tour visited made moved cases and cases of the stuff. And… don’t forget to hit the Whistlestop tonight!