Long before the latest 3D craze that was spurred single-handedly by Avatar, there was a big virtual reality boom in the early to mid 1990’s.  It was a prime time for virtual reality 1.0 because of movies like the lawnmower man and the availability of relatively cheap 3D-capable hardware.  If you already had a 386DX/25, you could interface a Mattel Power Glove and a Segascope 3-D to it via parallel ports and run rend386, a MS-DOS based virtual reality environment.  By that time, those items were outdated and showing up at thrift stores for next to nothing and rend386 came with several books, most notably Virtual Reality Creations with was written by the authors of rend386.

As of 1993, the Dave Stampe and Bernie Roehl decided to split up and perpetuate virtual reality research with separate tools.  Dave Stampe apparently went on to write a tool called VR-386 which was essentially a 90% rewrite of rend386 and was exponentially better.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any more information on it than is mentioned here on the power glove page.  Bernie on the other hand went on to create a tool called AVRIL.  Then Bernie went on to work on VRML which was designed to be used in a web browser and subsequently worked on Java3D.  Taking a quick look at some of the Java3D examples, I’m thinking that it’s not really quite as easily implemented as rend386 but I’ll reserve judgment for a later date when I have a chance to delve into some of these languages.

Reading the VRML wiki, it seems that VRML has been superseded by a language called X3D which is an XML based description language for virtual worlds which I plan to take a closer look at.

I am tentatively planning on building a USB power glove and/or Segascope interface out of an Atmel AVR at some point in the future.  As we all know however, hardware useless without the accompanying drivers and software.  Consequently, I’m still looking for the final environment in which I want to implement my interface.  Maybe I’ll just grab a 486DX/66 and dig up one of those old copies of rend386 but I would far prefer something that I could use with Google Sketchup drawings so the search continues.

Here is a small contemporary house I drew in Sketchup

Here is the inside

Here is another inside view

Here is a view of the back

I’d love to walk through that house in 3D with my Segascope and power glove in hand someday…

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