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The word cyclorama is originally of Greek origin. The Greek words ?cycl? meaning ?circle? and ?orama? meaning ?view? are formed together to create: a circular view. They were used predominantly in the 1800s as the virtual reality of their day.

Back then artists tried to give their viewers the 3D/surround effect now associated with virtual reality by painting a large-scale, realistic scene on the inside of a cylinder. Standing in the middle of the cylinder, a viewer would feel as if they were seeing the place portrayed on the walls in person, actually being at the depicted event.

Modern CAVEs and CUBEs work in the exact same way, save with moving images and a cubular formation due to display screens.

An Irish painter named Robert Barker patented the idea of a cyclorama. The story goes that the invention occurred to him when Baker was out climbing a hill in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. When he reached the top and saw the city spread out around and below him Barker decided he'd like to find a way of capturing the view. He opened his first cyclorama in Edinburgh in 1787.

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Cyclorama: the oft-neglected Tool
The cyclorama was the 19th century's version of TV, video game, and virtual reality, all (literally) rolled into one. By painting a large, highly detailed and realistic scene on the inside of a massive cylinder, they gave viewers standing in the middle, the feeling of really being a part of that scene.


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