Morton Heilig

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Morton Leonard Heilig (December 22, 1926 – May 14, 1997) was an American pioneer in virtual reality (VR) technology and a filmmaker.[1] He applied his cinematographer experience and with the help of his partner developed the Sensorama over several years from 1957, patenting it in 1962.[2]


It was big, bulky, and shaped like a 1980s era video arcade game. The Sensorama was quite impressive for 1960s technology. The viewing cabinet gave the viewer the experience of riding a motorcycle on the streets of Brooklyn. The viewer felt the wind on their face, the vibration of the motorcycle seat, a 3D view, and even smells of the city.[3]

Heilig wanted to create “cinema of the future.” [4] The Sensorama was doomed, however, from the high costs of the filmmaking. The problem was not that the apparatus addressed the wrong senses; the business community just couldn't figure out how to sell it.[5] He was not able to find the amount of funds necessary to create new 3-D films “obtained with three 35 mm cameras mounted on the cameraman.”[6]


Heilig was the producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor of the short films "Assembly Line" (1961) and "Destination: Man" (1965). He was the producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor of the feature film "Once" (1974). He directed episodes of the TV series Diver Dan (1961). He was a production executive for the film They Shoot Horses Don't They? (1969).[7][8]

Morton Heilig is buried at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.


  1. ^ Pimentel, K.; Teixeira, K. (1993). Virtual reality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-8306-4065-2.
  2. ^ Patent search results
  3. ^ Kock, N. (2008). "E-collaboration and e-commerce in virtual worlds: The potential of Second Life and World of Warcraft" (PDF). International Journal of e-Collaboration. 4 (3): 1–13. doi:10.4018/jec.2008070101.
  4. ^ "Morton Heilig (American cinematographer)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ Laurel, B. (1993), Computers as Theatre, Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, pp. 49–65
  6. ^ Scott Tate (Fall 1996). "Virtual Reality: A Historical Perspective".
  7. ^ retrieved May 5, 2018[user-generated source]
  8. ^ retrieved May 5, 2018

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