A Brief History of the Metaverse: DIY Metaverse

Tony and Mark – supported by a global community of technologists, enthusiasts and dreamers – brought 3D to the brand-new Web with VRML. This episode features Owen Rowley, Neil Redding, Linda Jacobson, Brian Behlendorf, John McCrea, Coco Conn — and Neal Stephenson.

Read the interview with Jaron Lanier in MONDO 2000 issue 2 that changed Mark’s life.

Homebrew VR“, written by Linda Jacobson, in WIRED magazine, issue 1.

Use Windows? Have a play with ‘Labyrinth’, the world’s first 3D Web browser, here. You can explore the ‘Cyberbanana’ – and ‘Daniel’s Room’, the first public demonstration of VRML, for SIGKIDS 1994.

“Coco’s Channel” a WIRED article about Coco Conn’s work creating SIGKIDS. Read it here.

Read ‘Cyberspace’, the paper describing VRML that Mark presented at the First International Conference on the World Wide Web.

Read the VRML 1.0 spec here.

A gallery of wonderful images from VERGE (thanks to Linda Jacobson for these!)

At the end of the episode, Neal Stephenson recounts the story of a panel he sat through – which inspired him to write Snow Crash. Read it here

A Brief History of the Metaverse: What is the Metaverse?

NEW SERIES! In episode one, Mark and co-host Tony Parisi travel back more than a century to uncover the roots of the Metaverse. From pioneers Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer, creators of “Habitat”, the first massively multiplayer online environment, we learn the Metaverse has never been about technology – but always about people.

Have a read through Tony Parisi’s “The Seven Rules of the Metaverse” here.
Read E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” here.
Listen to William Gibson reading an abridged version of Neuromancer here.
Wondering what Lucasfilm’s Habitat looked like? Watch the promo video here.
Read Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer’s amazing, prescient paper, “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” here.
Want to play Habitat? You can – in your web browser. Just go here.

Big thanks to the wonderful folks who voiced those historical evocations of Metaverse: Genevieve Bell, Mark Jeffrey, Paul Godwin and David Baxter.

GEOPOLICHIPS #3: How did America lose the semiconductor race?

For sixty years, Intel made the best chips in the world. As of 2020, they no longer do – and a company you’ve likely never heard of now holds the chip-making crown.

One of the key events reported in this episode concerns the firing of Intel Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala after the chip maker announced delays in development of its all-important 7-nanometer semiconductors.

Not long after that, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stepped down.

GEOPOLICHIPS #2: Why do computers get faster and smaller and cheaper?

More than 60 years ago, integrated circuits created a revolution in electronics that transformed the entire world. How are chips made? And why do we keep getting better at making them?

The ALTAIR 8800 was a landmark in computing – the first ‘microcomputer’, built around Intel’s breakthrough 8080 microprocessor. I remember it from the cover of Popular Electronics:

A magazine issue that changed the world, and kicked off ‘microcomputing’.

You could buy the ALTAIR 8800 in kit form, or fully assembled:

All of which led Paul Allen and Bill Gates to write ALTAIR BASIC, and sell it through their new company: MICROSOFT.

GEOPOLICHIPS #1: Why is there a global shortage of computer chips?

Manufacturers of video game consoles, automobiles – even toothbrushes – have been impacted by a global shortage of semiconductor integrated circuits – computer chips. How did these devices become so central to everything we make?

Read the amazing Playboy interview with William Shockley below…

Episode 4.06 – Is there a ‘secret history’ of video games?

In the late 1990s, military technology collided with entertainment, a destiny reaching back to the first flight simulators, nearly a century ago. We have amazing games today because of the Cold War – and a historic tank battle no one saw coming.

We had the great good fortune to be able to interview simulation pioneer Dr. Mike Zyda for this episode (he’ll be back again in part two). Mike is quite likely the key individual who facilitated the blending of military and entertainment technologies.

The Battle of 73 Easting is arguably the most important tank battle fought in the second half of the 20th century. The battle became the foundation for a new generation of battlefield simulation:

Big thanks to my nephew Andy (on the right) for helping his uncle understand the ins and outs of flying an aircraft – for real!

The Users Guide to the Future #2 – Why are we seeing more heatwaves?

The hot, dry conditions that preceded our Black Summer bushfires are becoming more common – how can we prepare for more frequent heatwaves?

Paleoclimatologist Nerilie Abram used coral samples to look back into a thousand years of climate, and heatwave expert Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick analysed the last seventy years of global data about heatwaves. Our climate past gives us a view into a hot future.

The Users Guide to the Future was produced in partnership with GIO.

Episode 3.09 The Future of the Web with Sean White

In thirty years the Web has grown into the foundation of civilisation – but can we make the Web more useful, more private – and more human? That’s a question that Sean White, Chief Research & Development Officer at browser-maker Mozilla continually considers. The answer is evolving.

Some of the answer lies with new Web technologies, like Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid project. And plenty of the answer lies within ourselves, as our use of the Web evolves.

Episode 3.08 The History of the Future with Blake Harris

Virtual Reality roared back to life this decade due to the efforts of  visionary teenager Palmer Luckey. Luckey built Oculus, sold to Facebook for $3 billion – then got fired.

Blake Harris’ wonderful book The History of The Future: Oculus, Facebook and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality served as the foundation for this episode – a true life story of triumph and tragedy. It’s a rip roaring good read.  Grab a copy here.

THE NEXT BILLION CARS Episode 3: The Next Billion Volts

Tesla drove electric vehicles from impractical to inevitable. Powertrains will soon feature a mix of hydrocarbons, hydrogen – and batteries.

Co-host Sally Dominguez toured China in a hydrogen-fueled Mercedes:

Sally felt as though she might have been driving a small hydrogen bomb around rural China…
But at least it wasn’t one of these clown cars! (Well, ok, so it is…)

The history of the automobile isn’t exactly the history of petrol – even if that’s what Carl Benz used in his internal combustion engine, there have always been lots of alternatives, including the Stanley ‘Steamer’:

1912 Stanley ‘Steamer’ (photo credit: Stephen Foskett)

The London Electrobus Company pioneered electric public transport over a hundred years ago – promoting itself as the cleaner alternative on London’s dirty streets:

London Electrobus (circa 1908)

Automobiles can even run on compressed air, as in the TATA/MDI OneCat:

(Photo credit: Deepak Gupta)

Special correspondent Drew Smith talks to automotive design legend Mate Rimac about what it takes to design electric automobiles.

(Photo credit: El Monty)


Episode 3.01 GETTING SINGULAR with Vernor Vinge

Over a billion seconds ago, sci-fi legend Vernor Vinge conceived of a “Technological Singularity”, when our machines outthink us. Should we worry?

Be sure to read Vernor’s 1993 paper, “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era” – it’s linked here.

1968: When the World Began – THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS

9 December 1968.

Modern computing begins with a ‘Big Bang’ — visionary Douglas Engelbart’s demo of a system designed to make everyone smarter.

 

 

Read Vannevar Bush’s article “As We May Think” on the Atlantic Monthly’s website.

Read Douglas Engelbart’s mind-bending 1962 research proposal, “Augmenting Human Intellect”.  Augmenting Human Intellect PDF

Here, in its full hundred-minute glory, is THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS: