Rheingold narrates the history and development of
virtual-reality (VR) technology from the 1970s through the 1990s.
explores many different applications of this new field, including
those in biomedical molecular science, robotics, architecture,
defense technology, prosthetics, gaming, and social interactions.
The diversity of these applications is accounted for, in part, by
what he terms the "convergence" of different technologies. In the
case of VR technology, although people like Morton Heilig in the
entertainment industry were interested in sensory stimulation as
early as the 1950s, ultimately the field of computer science
created the tools to make it possible, with funding (predictably)
from established institutions such as the Department of Defense.
Rheingold contextualizes cyberspace as we understand it today in
the larger history of the development of computer technology,
from the punchcard systems of the 1950s and 1960s, to the
personal computers of the 1980s, to the use of the mouse and
windows systems of the 1990s. He alludes to the notion of
"text-based cyberspace phenomenon" (308) on the Internet, new
multi-user dimensions (or MUDs) which evolved from 1980s
narrative exploration games such as Adventure. Rheingold is
interested in both scientific and human applications for virtual
reality, and emphasizes the role of communication between people
using computers to solve problems. He develops ideas about the
relationship between communication and community further in his
subsequent book, Virtual Community. (Kim
Text: Selective Annotated Bibliography.
Department of English, University of Minnesota
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Created 31 May 1995
Last revised 17 September 1996