A Brief History of the Metaverse: Military Metaverse

In our second episode, co-hosts Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi discover that the technology behind the Metaverse has its origins in the darkest days of the Cold War. This ‘Military Metaverse’ gave birth to the Internet, transforming warfare – and, a generation later, online gaming. Dr. Michael Zyda explains how he forged the connection between deep military tech – SIMNET – and the latest online games.

JCR Licklider – “Lick” to his friends and colleagues – is little-known but absolutely an essential figure in the development of modern computing.

Ivan Sutherland is probably the most influential computer scientist, full stop.

Here’s a video of Ivan Sutherland giving a demo of ‘Sketchpad’ the first interactive computer drawing program.

Bob Taylor is largely unknown outside the small community of individuals involved with the early Internet – but his work is profoundly influential.

Here’s an interview with Bob Taylor, talking about the origins of the Internet

Here’s an excellent documentary on the recreation of the “Battle of 73 Easting” – the first tank battle captured in real-time, then simulated endlessly using SIMNET.

1968: When the World Began – SWORD OF DAMOCLES

Ivan Sutherland – the Albert Einstein of interactivity – created SKETCHPAD, the first application that let users ‘draw’ onto a computer display. Five years later he followed that up with his ‘ultimate display’ – inventing virtual and augmented reality with a device nicknamed the SWORD OF DAMOCLES.

JCR Licklider‘s 1960 paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis” touched off a new wave of thinking of the computer as aid and amplifier of human capacity.
Read the PDF:  Licklider – Man-Computer Symbiosis

A video from Lincoln Labs, demonstrating some of the features of Ivan Sutherland’s SKETCHPAD, the first program that allowed you to draw to a computer display of an interactive computer, the TX-2:

And here’s the PDF of his 1965 paper: Sutherland – The Ultimate Display

By 1968, Sutherland was ready to show his ultimate display at the Fall Joint Computing Conference in San Francisco. Here’s what his ‘Sword of Damocles’ looked like in operation:

The proceedings for the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference paint the picture of computing at its pivot from arcane to mainstream, growing into greater interactivity. Here’s the stellar list of papers – featuring two by Sutherland, both foundational to VR and 3D graphics: FJCC Proceedings