In 1962, American cinematographer Morton Heilig patented an arcade game that allowed players to fly in a helicopter above the urban landscape or ride on a motorcycle through city streets, all for the price of a game of pinball. Heilig’s machine, the Sensorama, produced immersive simulacra of various urban experiences through the synthesis of film projection and mechanically generated wind, vibration, and odors. While the Sensorama never entered production, its prototype marked the birth of a new type of electromechanical simulation game that by the end of the 1960s would displace the mechanical pinball machine as an arcade staple and pave the way for the fully electronic games of the 1970s. The story of the Sensorama remains one of the founding myths of virtual reality (VR), a loosely defined, multidisciplinary, and, some would say, hubristic area of computer science that emerged between 1960 and the early 1980s. VR proposes that,...

You do not currently have access to this content.