#139: Henry Fuchs on the early history of Virtual Reality with Ivan Sutherland & the Sword of Damocles

Henry Fuchs has been involved with virtual reality technologies for over 45 years since 1970 when he first heard about Ivan Sutherland’s Sword of Damocles from his 1968 paper titled “A head-mounted three-dimensional display.” He talks about traveling to the University of Utah to study with Ivan Sutherland, and how he was inspired to work on his thesis of using lasers for depth-capturing 3D objects after watching some of Sutherland’s students hand-digitize his VW bug into polygon shapes.

Fuchs has also been recently working on telepresence applications of VR and talks about some of the open problems and challenges facing having a compelling telepresence implementation within a virtual environment.

In this interview, Fuchs provides a lot of really interesting insights into the history of virtual reality ranging from those first interactions with Ivan and how the Sword of Damocles came about, and how VR has been sustained over the years. He points out the importance of flight simulation in the history of VR, and some how much more robust computer-generated flight simulators were from the model-train style of building physical models with cameras.

Overall, Fuchs is full of really interesting insights about the history of computer graphics and some of the major milestones that virtual reality has had over the years.

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