The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

The concepts of Metaverses, digital realms, virtual real estate and cyber-wonderlands are quickly changing the world and filling it all with everlasting excitement.. But as it turns out, this whole “metaverse” thing, isn’t all that new.. Just a fresh skin, a whole lot of newfound hype and a bit more Mark Zuckerberg than previously.. Today.. We’re delving into the story of.. The First Metaverses!

What is a Metaverse?

First up, the classic question from all those Boomers sitting around the table at Thanksgiving…

What in the hell is a MetaVerse?

In layman’s terms: The MetaVerse is supposedly the next stage of the internet, where everyone is immersively connected in virtual space, not opposed to the real world, but on top of it.

In addition to it. Like the way that a website is sort of “virtual real estate” that you can access through a web browser, a plot of land in a metaverse is just a different take on a website.

In a website you can buy a domain, then build out a 2D storefront where you sell your custom t-shirts.

Well in a metaverse: You can buy a virtual plot of land, then build out a 3D storefront where your can sell your custom t-shirts.

Is The Metaverse Just… Everything?

Right now, broadly, The “metaverse” is actually more of an umbrella term being used to describe this conceptual trend that folks believe is unfolding.. The evolution of immersive worlds, or “games” – into a new, next-level form of “the internet” Rather than connecting and utilizing the web through apps, websites, etc, as it is currently for the most part.. It would mainly exist as a completely-interconnected 3D virtual world that can be infinitely, permanently built upon.

We could spend a whole video talking about what a metaverse is, what it isn’t and what it could be.. But we’ll leave it there, as that would be the gist of the theory behind “the metaverse” in 2022.

But what in fact possibly maybe you don’t know yet, is what I’m about to drop on you..

And that is..

The Origins of “The Metaverse”

Folks, real quick… IMMERSE YOURSELF..

The year is 1992. George H. W. Bush is the President. The internet is a wild-wild west, pretty brand-shiny-new in it’s early stages:

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

and video games are far beyond the point of immersive 3D worlds.

Well, eventually, June comes along. And when it does- A hot-spicy new sci-fi story hits the shelves and roars the world. That book- “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson.

The significance of this tale: It just so happens to be the book that first coined the term “metaverse” – And in fact, outlines the basic idea of what would eventually come to fruition.

But of course, Stephenson’s outline of the 3D virtual space filled with simmulated reality was a dystopian view into a cyber world – NOT meant to be reality… But 3 short years later.. Reality found its way!

1995: The Year of The First Metaverse

Now this is the year things start getting fun. The infamous, almighty Dotcom bubble began its explosive ride at this point.

Tech companies were hatching from the shadows of every nook and cranny that smelt VC potential.. Innovation was everywhere!

And eventually amidst this: two passionate young & idealistic tech boys came out from their shadows- And they came out with quite the idea…. Basically.. The idea was just Neal Stephenson’s idea – But actualized.

Please… I’d like you to meet: Mr. Ethan Zuckerman and Mr. Daniel Beck!

Who Are Ethan Zuckerman And Daniel Beck?

These two futurist boys were working at an up-and-coming tech spot called Tripod at the time, and this is where the magic began to happen.

Ethan & Daniel actually outlined their ambitious world in ‘94 – But officially pitched this sucker in ‘95 – When they convinced their then CEO that this real-deal metaverse of theirs could effectively simmulate life in the big city, virtually, for folks planning after college, which would bring all sorts of young thinkers of the world onto their site, as they desired and experienced the cyber-reality of living in NYC.

Specifically, this metaverse of theirs was considered to be a “MOO” – An onlline virtual system in which multiple users are all connected at the same time.

Well the project began – reality was upon them – full steam ahead!

Developing The First Metaverse

If you know anything about developing a virtual world, a game, a site, whatever, in today’s day and age – Well forget all of that completely, because this process was completely different. Ethan and Daniel had to take hundreds upon hundreds of Film-photographs, develop them, scan them and proceed to insert them across their webpages with early-stage, haphazard code. And again, this is a time when no one’s really building HTML-based multi-person experiences – So this right here is pure innovation, baby.

The only problem was – And it, ya know, it was kind of an issue… The project sucked…

As stated by Ethan himself: “The MOO was garbage. On a good day, I could give a demo that made it look smooth, slick, and fun to use. But our CEO couldn’t. And that was a problem.”

SO just like that, with the snap of a finger: Tripod shut the project down. The MOO Metaverse of 1995 was no-more..

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

And so.. Time went on.. As it does..

Across those next few years, there were a few temporary projects that had ideas dabbling within the realm of “metaverse things” – But nothing substantial — Until 1998!

1998: The Story of Wei Dai and B-Money

Three years into the path of the Dotcom Bubble – A computer scientist man by the name of Wei Dai reveals a bold new internet model.

Something never before explored, and rather difficult to grasp.

A system called “b-money” – This next-level, anonymous, distributed electronic cash system – Reminiscent of what would one day become the concept behind modern cryptocurrency – So much so, that Dai described the “proof of work” protocol as a means of creating money.

Satoshi Nakamoto eventually went on to reference Dai’s proposal along the process of creating Bitcoin….

BUT That’s a story for another day, folks. The point here, is that this concept of internet funny money was proposed – And well, that’s it. No functionality, no development. But an idea that was oh-so-very ahead of its time, and relevant in the real deal, start-to-finish first instance of what we would consider to be a successful metaverse…

A digital realm that entered into existence a mere 5 years later.

2003: The First Successful Metaverse

June 23rd.. The start of summer – The tech bubble has popped, and economically: We’re past the worst of the crash.

But of course, the innovation continued the whole time – And on this very day – A new project opened itself up to the world

That project…..

Second Life

Teeechnicalllyyy- There was a series of closed then public betas leading up to the official launch – But for simplicity- Linden Lab officially released Second Life on June 23rd, 2003.

Anyway, anyway, anyway!

You might just be wondering— Chris, what in the hell is Second Life? A MetaVerse? Whaaat?

Linden Lab’s very own Second Life is in fact, an online multimedia platform focused on allowing real world people to create digital avatars within this virtual world, and proceed to build out their “second life” within this ever-so-expansive digital realm.

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

So.. What is Second Life? Is it a game?

Aha- NO! That’s ridiculous. Since the beginning, Second Life has always avoided calling itself a “game.”

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

They often referred to it as a “3D Online Virtual World”

This was an online, immersive realm where folks from across the world create an account, enter in, and do whatever it is they wanna do within there.. Live life, buy stuff, sell stuff, gamble, listen to music, build property, watch movies, have sex.. You know.. Life stuff..

I mean… Is this starting to sound a bit more familiar now?

When I say buy stuff, sell stuff, build out property… I mean with real money. This virtual world had a virtual marketplace with items that cost real deal, real world cash!

Again… Sound familiar?

And you ready for this… At the time, when Second Life came into existence and word began to spread about this “Virtual World” this “metaverse” – whatever you want to call it…. T

here grew an energy around it. A “hubub” of people talking about how insane, amazing, freaky, innovated, etc, etc. that this all was! Is this the future? Are we in it?

And well.. No, folks. We were only in 2003. This is before the iPhone was even announced. This is before YouTube… This is before Obama.. This is a lifetime ago..

Yet, history was creating a very similar pattern to that of the one around us today.

And you ready for this one..? – One of the major “assets” you could buy within the Second Life-Verse were these islands- that you could then build out whatever you wanted.. Well as the innovative hype grew, companies began buying these island for marketing, innovation, or whatever else…..

Again.. Sound familiar?

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

This was the virtual world! And folks wanted to get in on it early…. But unfortunately.. Sometimes being an “early adopter” does not mean success and riches… Sometimes it means nothing..

So then… The million dollar question—

What happened to Second Life?

Did it crash and burn? Did it fall and fail?

Well, if you can imagine this!— No. No, it did not crash and burn or fall and fail. It just…. Slowly, gradually existed in its own little bubble.

The period of news stories, hype and disbelief slowly disappeared. The fallacy that this would create the new digital reality with this innovative virtual economy faded as Second Life found its loyal, core audience: And the tech-hunters, investors, brands, etc. found their way onto the. next things. Maybe it was the app store? Or the evolution of web2? Or a path of exploration to eventually fulfill the ever-repeating circle and now they’re right back where they started, in the midst of the “digital realm” – The metaverse! Like before, but better! Here, finally, for the world to embrace the change they once believed would evolve everything and everyone…

Maybe this is the point in history where it does? Maybe Second Life was AskJeeves so that Decentraland could become Google?

Maybe Maybe Second Life was so that The Sandbox could become Amazon! Maybe.

Alls I know is that history is a fun, juicy pattern of repeating rhythms. Personally, I’m bullish on the modern metaverses – I follow it all closely and I’m excited for the future – But it’s always a good time looking back at the origins, at the immersive tale that got us here, to this point, right now… And that there is all I got for ya on this one..

I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep-dive on the first Metaverses, the ones that came before. If you want more spicy delves into the world of money.

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

Check out the rest of my “Money Lore” videos!

Either way, thank you so much for watching and/or reading! I’ll see ya real soon. Be safe out there!

The First Metaverse in History: A Timeline of Metaverse Development

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