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Virtual reality may look and feel like a completely different experience than what moviegoers saw when they put on 3-D glasses in the 1950s, but looking at users themselves reveals a fun similarity.

A photo from Samsung’s “Beyond Barriers” event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday showed audience members using the company’s Gear VR headsets. According to Samsung, 5,000 attendees experienced the immersive event, which rolled out the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. When audience members removed their headsets following Samsung’s demo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was, surprisingly, standing on the stage.

Samsung VR
Samsung Gear VR headsets are used at the Galaxy Unpacked event. (Samsung)

Flash back to 1952, a vintage photo of audience members shows everyone wearing 3-D glasses for the opening-night showing of “Bwana Devil” in an image captured by J.R. Eyerman of Time & Life. The faces of the smartly dressed Hollywood moviegoers are all lit the same as they stare toward the screen wearing white glasses.

According to Time magazine, “Bwana Devil” was billed on its posters as “The World’s First Feature Length Motion Picture in Natural Vision 3-Dimension.” The movie’s tagline promised of “A LION in your lap! A LOVER in your arms!”

For a society used to viewing motion pictures a particular way, the image must have come across as rather futuristic — and perhaps a bit absurd — at the time. As virtual reality and the headsets that deliver it start to hit the market 64 years later, audiences still come across as futuristic in appearance, but our acceptance of and demand for cutting edge technology has diminished the absurdity.

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