I Really Want This 19th Century VR Cycling Simulator to be Real

By Matt Novak on at

Recently the retro-future-ish corners of the internet have been passing around this 19th century illustration of a virtual reality headset. And while I can’t verify where the image originally came from, I desperately want it to be real.

The image supposedly comes from a cycling magazine circa 1896 and was published with text that said: “With a home trainer, electric fan, and cinematograph, all the pleasures of a tour can be had in a hall bedroom.” A cinematograph was an early motion picture camera/projector that helped usher movies into the mainstream.

Not only do I want this image to actually be from the 1890s, I really want to try a virtual reality simulator that uses 19th century tech. The pre-history of VR headsets is certainly littered with bizarre experiments, but something like the illustration above could actually be executed pretty well nowadays.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to find where this image was originally published. But if you have better sleuthing skills, please let us know where it comes from in the comments below. [Reddit]