The Evolution of Computers and Virtual Reality at HPU

High Point University is in possession of an Oculus Rift, one of the most sophisticated pieces of virtual reality technology on the market today. The potential applications for this device range from constructing virtual architecture, to helping treat crippling phobias. But most people use them to play video games, which is the focus of this blog post.

There have been many advancements in electronics and technology that have led to this point. The HPU Libraries Digital Archives contains many great examples of past HPU students interacting with early computers throughout the school’s history.




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High Point University (then High Point College) first acquired computers in the spring of 1981.

These computers were the classic Apple II Series, as seen in the surrounding images. The Apple II ran the computer languages BASIC and Pascal, had a maximum capacity of 48k bytes of memory, and retailed for about $1300.



According to an article in The Hi-Po, (p. 66) one of the reasons the then current administration choose the Apple II over other brands was for its “excellent graphics”. Check out an example of said graphics in the early computer game, Load Runner.



In the mid 90’s, the school rented early virtual reality simulators during the Fall Bash.  The machines in the following photographs are the Virtuality 1000CS gaming pods.  The students pictured here are playing Dactyl Nightmare and Zone Hunter. Both are first-person-shooters that defy description. You must see them in action to truly appreciate the visuals.

The black and white photo is from a 1995 issue of The Campus Chronicle. The color photo is from the 1997 edition of The Zenith yearbook.



This brings us to the present, and the aforementioned Oculus Rift system. This machine uses infrared lights which basically adjust what you see as you move you head. It makes for a very immersive and captivating experience. The student in this picture is experiencing a version of the Walking the Plank Game, which allows you to simulate walking across two skyscrapers, on a wooden plank.



The technological progress over the past 40 years is astounding.  What new tech will High Point University acquire next?

For more records and pictures of the HPU’s history, visit the HPU Library Digital Archives, including The Hi-Po, The Campus Chronicle, and the HPU Yearbook The Zenith.


Blog post by Trae Middlebrooks, Evening Reference Librarian