Aaron Brancotti AKA Babele Dunnit demoing REND386

In the first half of the 1990s there had been a huge mediatic boom about virtual reality. Movies about VR were released; TV programmes were hyping incredibly expensive hardware; books about the phylosophy of the virtual were written; everyone was talking about virtual reality.
All the hype was basically just a lot of talking, until two independent VR enthusiasts, Dave Stampe and Bernie Roehl, decided that it was time to actually bring virtual reality to PC users. For this reason, they wrote an open source software for MS-DOS they called Rend386 that allowed the creation and exploration of virtual worlds and offered native support to the Nintendo Power Glove (for manipulation) and the SegaScope shutterglasses (for stereoscopy). Rend386 and its successors VR386 and AVRIL were quite popular on FidoNet and on the internet, and some users created free virtual environments for them.

Modern machines are no longer capable to run Rend386 or derivatives natively, while emulation such as DOSBox is not compatible with the Power Glove and SegaScope interfaces. However, VRML is still currently used (even though it's been superseded by X3D, but X3D contains VRML97) and VRML browser plugins are still being released. Since they offer support for Direct3D 9, they are also compatible with modern stereoscopy systems!
This was an excellent opportunity to convert to VRML those historical Rend386 virtual environments, in order to allow modern users to experience them in stereoscopy and in higher resolutions.
VRML environments
All these environments require a VRML browser plugin to be displayed. Download Cortona 3D Viewer for Windows (this supports Direct3D9 and stereoscopy) or OpenVRML for Linux, FreeBSD and OSX.
To explore them online, left click on the corresponding screenshot. To download them and explore them offline, right click and choose "Save destination as".
If you are on a mobile device with Android, you will need to download VRML View 3D to view VRML environments.
Amusement park
Sample set of rooms
Leicester University VR Group demo
Todd Porter's checker.exe demo
Helicopter model
Dactyl Nightmare environment
(a simulacrum of a simulacrum!)
Objects modelled with NCAD

Swimming pool

Primitives modelled with IRIT

VR rendition of the REND386 circuit for the Sega 3D glasses
Mark Pflaging's superquadrics

X29 airplane model
Racquetball court
SCUBA world
Chess pieces
Industrial robot (the arm is poseable)
Cloud bank

Original files
Download Rend386 (Zip file, 140 KB)
Download VR386, with source code and WLD files (Zip file, 1.33 MB)
Download AVRIL executable and source code (Zip file, 787 KB) - READ THE NOTES
Download WLD to VRML converter (Zip file, 461 KB)
Download Racquetball (Zip file, 196 KB)
Download PCVR Jet (Zip file, 134 KB)
Download Betamate 3 (Zip file, 132 KB)
Download 2MRobo (Zip file, 107 KB)
Download Dactyl demo (Zip file, 93.4 KB)
Download additional PLG and WLD files (Zip file, 1.73 MB)

VRML is still a great way to create 3D content for the web that can be experienced on computers or Android-based mobile devices. With a head-mounted display and stereoscopic drivers, it can even be experienced in virtual reality!
Would you like to know more about VRML or create 3D web content? These books may be exactly what you are looking for.