straight up
"The first system developed at NASA-Ames was literally a motorcycle helmet with a visor attachment containing two small liquid crystal displays screens. "
NASA scientist wears an early system prototype

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NASA-AMES <1985>

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.