V.R. Goggles: 3-D trip inside a drawing, via computer graphics (Apr, 1971)

3-D trip inside a drawing, via computer graphics

Slip this display device on your head and you see a computer-generated 3-D image of a room before your eyes. Move your head and your perspective changes, just as though you were actually inside the room. Architects could use the device to draw buildings in three dimensions; realtors could use it to show buyers the interiors of homes without even leaving the office. Dr. Ivan Sutherland, University of Utah, invented the device, essentially a computer-graphics version of the old stereoscope.

  1. Harry says: September 21, 20119:35 am

    He’s still at it. Evans & Sutherland’s website: http://www.es.com/

  2. Hirudinea says: September 21, 201112:18 pm

    It looks like he’s getting fitted for glasses.

  3. Andrew L. Ayers says: September 21, 20111:16 pm

    Something to note: Despite this article being from 1971, the “Sword of Damocles” was invented by Ivan Sutherland in 1968:


    It was known as such (pejoratively, in a manner – it was called “The Ultimate Display” by Ivan Sutherland) due to the way it was mounted (hung) over the user/wearer, in a very seemingly precarious manner (the arm and potentiometers at the end, just above the head – acted as an early form of 3D tracking mechanism).

    Ivan Sutherland also created many other innovations in the virtual reality/augmented reality area of that time; for more, see the following article on my website:


    BTW – be sure to check out the paper on the “Twinkle Box” – an early wireless optical 3D tracker!

    Charlie – thank you for posting this small article on the Ultimate Display/Sword of Damocles; it will go into my VR collection of files and such (I hope you don’t mind my linking to the article on my website – it is relevant, and does expand on the subject, though).


  4. Andrew L. Ayers says: September 21, 20111:30 pm

    Hmm – I just noticed something in the full-sized version of that image – the “information plate” at the forehead of the user (Ivan Sutherland? dunno…) reads “Perkin-Elmer”; I’m not sure what role they played in the development of the Sword of Damocles, but it would be interesting to find out (I am suspecting that they might be responsible for the headmount, video displays, or the feedback positioning arm – which if you’ve seen it, looks like one of those “servo-manipulator” arms used for remote handling in dangerous environments)…

  5. Mike says: September 21, 20118:10 pm

    “Slip this device on your head” … Doesn’t look that easy.

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