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Tag Archive: VRASP

A VR Who’s Who From 1994 – uniVRsum

1994 marks the peak of what many view as the first “Big Bubble” in VR popularity. There were literally hundreds of (mostly) entrepreneurial startups taking a wild fling and what seemed to be a game-changing technology. You could strike sparks anywhere! By 1997 most had either vanished or transformed themselves. If you stood in just the right place, with the right kind of eyes, you could almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back. (Thanks HST!)

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Thanks to Zenka – Zenka.org – for the totally cool Sega VR sculpture.

In the first half of 1994 a group of students, with the limited support of a few industry players, known as VRASP (Virtual Reality Alliance of Students and Professionals) embarked on the uniVRsum project to integrate the diverse and incompatible VR technologies flooding the market. This was to culminate in a presentation at Siggraph ’94, the premiere computer graphics conference and trade show.

One of uniVRsum’s first steps was to compile a database of the VR company/product universe. As one of the few industry supporters, I had access, thanks to Karin August at VRASP, to a copy of this fascinating compendium. Twenty-two years later, it resurfaced in an old file box.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive survey of 120 companies active in the VR marketplace in early 1994. A few remain, but most are lost, “like tears… in the rain.”

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Click for entire listing PDF

 

 

 

VRASP, Pix-Elation, and Phlogiston

1992 brought a non-virtual swarm of young and eager students to every VR event (and there were WAY too many) under the sun. Perhaps there were massive show discounts for attendees who were too young to drink legally, but members of the Virtual Reality Alliance of Students and Professionals (VRASP) were everywhere. You’d think this would be a major annoyance for the corporate crowd, but au contraire; what a joy to hang with the best and brightest… no hype, no BS, none of the pretentiousness so evident elsewhere in VR-land. VRASP directors included both VR industry management and an incredibly motivated and knowledgeable cadre of university students.

VRASP was the brainchild of Karin August, a Rutgers alum, and all around energizer bunny (Karin where are ya now??) Among other things, she and her cohorts had no problem moving right into a spare room at my company’s office; in exchange we got a full page inside-cover advertisement in VRASP’s almost-monthly publication Pix-Elation (Read a sample issue: Pix-Elation Issue 11) Taken from VRASP’s statement of purpose:

VRASP encourages immersion, interaction, and information dissemination amongst our membership, as well as between people and technology. Each VRASP Cell holds educationally-oriented meetings and events at which VRASP members get to socialize “ftf”, sharing their eclectic knowledge and cooperatively pursuing a future where Virtual Reality is a Reality.

There was certainly an element of socialization from Gordon Biersch to the Carnegie Deli, and this was reflected in their ‘zine: Pix-Elation. Columns like: “Dear Glovey”, “Lawnmower Lounge Lizard”, and “Fraunhofer Frolic” put the tease on; was Captain Beefheart inside?  Anyway, no need to pimp ’em further. Just read the ‘zine and weep!