I first visited Ames [NASA's Ames
Research Center] in early 1984 for a special workshop
on human factors issues for the US Space Station program
that was just beginning. At the time I was still working
with Alan Kay at
Atari and mostly focusing on developing immersive video
game and educational environments with the Coin-op division
as well as continuing longer term research on the possible
uses of HMDs (Head-Mounted Display) and first-person technologies
for a range of applications. At the Ames conference I
was introduced to Dave Nagel who was at the time Assistant
Chief of the Aerospace Human Factors Research Division.
Nagel expressed interest in my research and asked me if
I would give a presentation sometime on it for their Division.
Soon after that Atari collapsed and I was looking around
for somewhere to continue the same thread of research
and that would specifically support development of a HMD
based program. Nagel was interested in having me work
there and got a new research position opening announced
for which I had to formally apply to become a Civil Servant.
I returned to Ames and gave a slide and talk presentation
called "Interactive technologies for simulation of first-person
experience" in which I showed work from MIT and Atari
and also talked about other new technologies that I had
been looking at for use in the Coin-Op division including
some background on head-mounted displays.
Both Steve Ellis and Mike McGreevy
were at my presentation. At the time they were working
at Ames on some interesting graphics to help users (like
pilots) make better estimates of spatial relationships
on 2D displays.
It took almost 9 months for NASA to
process my employment application and do security checks
and I finally started work there in the beginning of '85.
I had heard earlier that year from Ev Palmer, Branch Chief
of the Human Machine interface group in Nagel's division,
that they would be interested in supporting some HMD development
for space station use and was I looking forward to working
on this with the team of researchers there.