This 24-Year-Old Documentary On Virtual Reality Is Something Else

With Virtual Reality being such a 'thing' nowadays, it's often easy to forget that this is actually the second resurgence of VR into the public consciousness. Horizon: Colonizing Cyberspace is a documentary about the potential of VR and it was made in 1991. That's 24 years ago. You should totally watch it.

In terms of the style and aesthetic of the documentary, it's about as 90s as it comes, but it remains a super interesting perspective on precisely what we thought about virtual reality in the 90s, and our ideas of how it might work in the future.

I find this sort of thing fascinating. Looking back at a previous generation's idea of the future is always quaint and faintly hilarious, but it's important to understand that these concepts were deadly serious. Quite often these kind of documentaries can surprise you with their accuracy in predicting the future.

In a sense the most disappointing part of this documentary is how long it took Virtual Reality to have that resurgence. It's cool to see how far we've come, but sort of depressing to see how much distance is left to travel.

Anyway, if you have the time, give this a watch. It's worth the time.

But dear God the art. Wow.


    Man I wish I could sit here for 45 minutes watching youtube :P

    That guys beard will haunt my dreams for eternity.

    Like Gooky, I don't have time to watch this (until the home commute), but I bet Jaron Lanier gets mentioned. I remember trying out the headset in that first screencap too .… I think they had it at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

      Reasonably sure Jaron Lanier is the guy with the beard mentioned above.

    Wow, I remember trying this out at the Brisbane Myer Centre waayyy back in late 80s. There were huge line ups for a basic two minute go at moving a big yellow hand around in virtual space (consisting of a checked floor and a wall or two in a blue sky)

      Yup, I tried that too!

      The lawnmower man made big promises about vr!

    Oh man, I remember programming on the Arcade machines before we left and started our own startup based on Twin Atari Mega ST computers.
    Ahh those were the (crappy) days.

    I'm glad the old stuff is re-appearing, it should help dampen the insane amounts of hype about VR that are around now, by looking back at the insane hype around back then.

    Plus, the Nintendo Power Glove. Man that thing was a boon to the industry at the time. I dug mine out of retirement a few weeks ago to interface it with the rift.

    Last edited 13/01/15 3:00 pm

    I still think it’s a bit early to declare a VR “resurgence”.

    As someone who doesn’t go to game shows I haven’t seen or heard of VR anywhere outside of dedicated games websites since they had them in the arcades around the time this documentary was made.

    I know they’ve made leaps and bounds (or at least I believe the people who tell me on the internet), I’m just saying that as of today, VR isn’t as popular in the mainstream as it was in 1994.

    That’s not to say it won’t get there (maybe imminently) though, it may be coming back, but it's not back yet.

    I remember this show, one of many that inspired my career path from a very early age. For all those CG artists you have to also watch volume 4 of the Masters of animation series from the 80's. It was what kicked my passion for 3D after tinkering with 2D graphics on a Dick Smith Wizzard.

    Macromyopia. It really sums up VR perfectly.

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