It may be in vogue for blockbuster movies, but 3D has a much longer history than you might think. Find out how we got from 19th century photo viewers to Final Destination 5, with retro clips galore along the way, in our history of 3D.
1. The beginning
Way before the cinema there were ways of viewing photos in 3D, so if you think Fujifilm made history with its Finepix Real 3D W1 a couple of years ago, think again. In 1838 Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the Stereoscope, but it wasn’t until 1844 that David Brewster introduced prisms to it, helping unite dissimilar pictures. While Brewster is often credited as inventing the Stereoscope, he only really improved it.
The stereoscope was small enough to carry in your pocket, and introduced the principle still fundamental to 3D: separating images to the left and right eye, which are then combined to create the illusion of depth. The images would be the same but from very slightly different perspectives; your eyes are forced to cross, and as the images diverge a ‘third’ image emerges out of the two, creating depth. It’s amazing to think the fundamentals behind today’s 3D technology were put down over 170 years ago.
Early pictures tended to be landscapes or people sitting on chairs, but the image coming out towards the viewer was a first.
Above, a modern example of stereoscopy