The History of Oculus

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The History of Oculus
TVRS Episode 4's thumbnail
Date March 9, 2020
Duration 8:24
Previous episode What is Hololive?
Next episode The Future of Fashion is Virtual! (Chloma)
Link YouTube
This article is about the TVRS episode. For the company, see Oculus.

The History of Oculus is the fourth episode of The Virtual Reality Show. This episode goes over the history of VR-focused software development company Oculus.


Video Description

I pronounced id Studios wrong, please forgive me, YouTube! Misspoke a couple of times but didn't realize till editing. Anyways, I had a lot of fun making the video this week, and learned a lot while researching for this video. I upped the video quality to 1080p as well as increased the audio quality. Excited about these positive changes!


PHIA: Hello, and welcome back to The Virtual Reality Show, (laughs) where we talk about any and all things related to virtual reality... inside of virtual reality! (laughs) I'm your host, PHIA. This week, I'm gonna talk about something very near and dear to my face at this given moment, which is... Oculus! As the the 2010s have come to a close, Oculus has found itself a place in the households of millions across the world. It's a common name to come up in conversations and anyone who's ever been interested in VR has probably asked themselves, "Should I get an Oculus?"

So how did Oculus go from being non-existent ten years ago to sitting on the shelves of millions, including myself? Well, it all started when Steve Jobs sat down in his parents garage- (laughs) Kidding! It was Palmer Luckey, born in 1992, who set up in his parents garage, actually. In his ten years, Luckey fell in love with VR and became actively interested in understanding it, and even began building his own headsets at just 16 years old. Luckey began working as an engineer on VR and mixed reality head displays at California State, Long Beach, while working towards a journalism degree. During this time, his active interest in VR took him towards the Meant to be Seen 3D (MTBS3D) forums, which was a community of online users interested in stereoscopic 3D gaming. Here, Luckey's work was discovered by John Carmack, (laughs) one of the founders of id Software and lead programmers on their games Wolfenstein, and Doom.

Carmack ended up being so impressed with Luckey's prototypes, that he showcased a version of Doom 3 using the Oculus at the 2012 E3 convention. Journalists went crazy writing about this groundbreaking technology and a lot of attention was brought to the Oculus Rift prototype! Until this point, VR did not have an affordable place in the mainstream market. This headset still had some glaring issues like having a screen door effect as you look through it, but was incredibly better than paying thousands of dollars for a different, clunky headset in the market that wasn't nearly as good.

Luckey teamed up with Brendan Iribe, and a few others that August, to launch a Kickstarter for their new company Oculus VR! Their goal was set to $250 (thousand) USD, but the team raised a whopping 2.4 million! The first mass-manufactured prototype headset was the Oculus Development Kit, aka DK1. This version was released in March of 2013 and was intended for programmers who were interested in working with VR. It featured head-tracking, but lacked depth perception and had an 800p resolution. The Crystal Cove prototype was shown off later that year at E3 2013, and improved those key areas. It had improved motion detection by adding a depth tracking system, as well as 1080p resolution, but this model was never released to the public, as it was refined into the Oculus DK2, which released July of 2013.

During this time, John Carmack quit his job with id Studios (Software) to work full-time as the the CTO, Chief Technology Officer, of Oculus. But then, something big happened. On March 25, 2014, between the time of creating and release of the DK2, Facebook bought out Oculus VR for 2 billion dollars! The internet went up in flames and there was a general consensus of discontent over the decision. They got accused of being a sellout, and suddenly lost that personal, homegrown charm of being an underdog company that had jumped on the frontier of opportunity.

Despite this, Oculus insisted that they would remain working independant to Facebook, and ensured fans that they would not have to worry. (The) final prototype of the Oculus was codenamed Crescent Bay, with better resolution, built-in audio, and 360-degree tracking. This September 2014 model was not released publicly, but was the final stepping stone to the Oculus Rift CV1. That November, Oculus collaborated with Samsung on the Gear VR, a smaller, more affordable VR experience, intended not for immersive gaming, but for mobile device compatibility.

History was made on March 28, 2016, with the release of the Oculus Rift CV1. The introductory price of the system was $599 USD, and production continued until 2019, with over 10 million units sold between the Gear VR and the CV1 combined. The Rift turned VR from a technology of the future to into a technology of the now, taking immersive worlds and fitting them into household bedrooms, but, sadly, not even two years later in 2017, Palmer Luckey had to leave Oculus due to politically charged controversy. He had been participating in political groups whose views did not match Facebook's, and can be quoted saying: "It wasn't my choice to leave" to the CNBC in regards to this event.

Oculus co-founder, Brendan Iribe, left Oculus the next year in 2018, saying that his and Facebook's ideas for the future of Oculus was growing fundamentally different over time. This was not long after the release of the Oculus Go, an all-in-one VR headset, marketed towards a more cinematic experience, versus a gaming based one. But, a gaming based all-in-one VR headset, known as the Oculus Quest, was announced shortly after at the Facebook 2018 F8 Conference, alongside the Rift S, an improved model of the Rift, with enhancements such as no longer requiring external sensors to require movement. The Quest and the Rift S launched on May 21, 2019. These current-generation models are what is sending VR into the mainstream. The Quest has made VR affordable for those who don't already have the high-spec PCs required with the Rift models. It's a standalone system that you can take anywhere, even outside if you wish!

In November 2019, John Carmack stepped down from his role as CTO of Oculus VR. He posted a statement to Facebook saying that he's moving to a "Consulting CTO" position, where he, will still have a voice in development, but is now focusing on artificial general intelligence. The original voices of Oculus have left the company in the hands of Facebook, but VR is growing at an alarming rate! It is now March of 2020, and we're still in a headset and tracker drought that was brought on from so many units being sold during this past holiday season. So many people acquired an Oculus for Christmas and all their jealous friends are waiting with their wallets open for the out-of-stock button to turn blue. (laughs) A new era is beginning for Oculus, as Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Horizon, a massively multiplayer VR shared Horizons is set to launch this year. Whether or not Oculus is in good or bad hands is up for debate, but its history is something we should cherish as we plug ourselves into the future.

I hope you enjoyed learning the history of Oculus, and are just as excited about its future as I am. (laughs) If you wanna talk more about this topic, or anything else related to VR, then please join my Discord, link in the description, and if you enjoyed this video, then please please please please subscribe to the channel, and give this video a big thumbs-up, because your support is what helps keep me going! I'd like to say thanks to everyone for helping me hit over 200 subscribers this past weekend, yay, (laughs) and to everyone who joined into my first VTuber Twitch stream. Don't forget to check out last week's video, where I talk about Hololive, a Japanese talent agency for cute virtual YouTubers! If you wanna support The Virtual Reality Show, then please consider donating or joining my Patreon, so that i can afford things like full-body tracking. Anyway, thanks for watching The Virtual Reality Show! I've been your host, PHIA, and I'll see you on next week's episode! Bye!~


  • The title of this episode used to be "History of Oculus - THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOW [004]".