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So, where do I start?

Simon with Virtual Reality Virtuality 1000CS


         Well, I am Leicester (UK) born and I have lived here all my life. I studied in Mechanical & Production Engineering. I currently work at a local company, designing programmes for CNC machines, as well as develop systems to make things run more smoothly. Education and employment aside, I have always had an interest in computers and electronics.


         Before the time of VR, when I was about 14yrs old, I started to design my own Johnny Five robot from the film Short Circuit. I worked on these designs on and off, for a few years. Then in 1990, I started my apprenticeship. During the time at college, which I attended on Fridays, I headed to the local arcade on the way to and from college, and sometimes at lunch breaks, to play on the W.Industries Virtuality 1000SD unit. This was a sit down, 1000 series machine that was playing a game called `Heavy Metal`. In the game, you controlled one of 2 robots, like a `Mech Warrior`, roaming a city. The aim of the game was to shoot the other robot more times that it did you. Basically it was a `Death-match` game


         I was addicted after the first game! So what made it better for me; the arcade added a second machine, so I could play against a human opposition. After all the `practice` I had had, I only got beaten once! I congratulated the player, only to find out he was a W.Industries technician


         To my horror, the arcade got rid of both VR machines within about 6 months, and replaced them with a big-screen Sega Virtua-Fighter. For the rest of my college days, I played that instead, but I sorely missed the Virtuality Machines. After I finished my college course, I went in search of information on the Virtuality machines, only to find out that they were manufactured in my home-town! By chance I even started to pass the building every day on the way to work, so one day I popped in to see if they had any jobs, as I would of gladly given up my current (at the time) employment, for a job working with VR machines. Unfortunately, at this time, it was 1997, and the company had just started to go into liquidation.


         In 2004, I became a core-team member of `Input-Inc`.  We were a team of 3-8 people Input-Inc Johnny 5     (it varied over the years), dedicated to building a full-size replica of Johnny Five, from the film Short Circuit. The team has now `disbanded`, but the project still lives on, as all the team members, as well as many other people now, connected by Facebook, are helping each other out in building these robots. Mine is currently a sheet metal framework, with lots to do. It sits behind my Virtuality in the garage. During the time on the Input-Inc team, I still kept looking into how to make a VRmachine. Playing about with `Wiimotes`, and `PS 6-axis` controls for tracking, and a video headset. Nothing ever worked properly though.


         I kept looking for VR parts on eBay. In about 1998, I found an empty Visette 2. I bought this in hope to get parts to get it working. It has been misplaced – possibly binned - I cant remember! In about 2006, I bought a full Visette 2 that I still have, and still plan to get working somehow! In mid-2012, there were 2 1000SD machines on eBay; they were in a bad state, all in bits, not sure if all there if worked at all. Too expensive nor did I have the space! I gave those a miss.


         Later that year, in December, I looked again, and spotted the 1000CS unit. I bought it without hesitation, and it was delivered at the start of 2013. You can see the story of My Virtuality 1000CS on the projects page. Once I got the machine all set up and working, I was invited to take it to an event at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, in May 2013: Retro Revival Event. Over the weekend, over 200 people had a go on my VR machine; I was overwhelmed and in awe of the popularity of it, considering I only bought it because `I` wanted it.


        Since that weekend, I have become a member of the Retro Computer Museum, which unknown to me, was based only about 5 minutes from my home! I have been helping at the museum almost every Sunday and Wednesday evenings since. I have taken my VR machine to a few events with the RCM, and it has been popular each time.


        This has inspired me to find out as much information as I can about the machines, the games, the company and its people, for this website. I have managed to get in contact with many people involved with the W.Industries/Virtuality company; Technicians, Game designers, Graphics designers and including the MD – Dr. Jonathon Waldern himself! Through speaking to these people, I have gathered quite a bit of information about the machines, games and company.


        You can find all the information I have, on this website.