When Was 3D Invented? A Brief History of 3D Technology

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3D technology has become an integral part of our lives, from movies and video games to medical and engineering fields. But when was 3D invented? The history of 3D technology dates back to the 19th century. In 1838, Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope, which was a device that could create the illusion of three-dimensional images. This invention was a significant step towards the development of 3D technology.

In the early 20th century, 3D technology continued to evolve. In 1915, the first anaglyphic movie was produced, which used red and blue glasses to create the illusion of 3D. However, it was not until the 1950s that 3D technology became popular in the film industry. This was due to the introduction of polarized glasses, which could create a more realistic 3D effect. Since then, 3D technology has continued to advance, and today it is used in a wide range of applications, from entertainment to medicine and education.

Early Developments

The history of 3D technology dates back to the 19th century when the first stereoscope was invented. Since then, the technology has undergone significant developments, leading to the creation of 3D modeling, printing, and movies. In this section, we will explore the early developments of 3D technology.


Stereoscopy was the first technology that allowed people to view images in 3D. In 1838, Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope, a device that used two mirrors to create a single 3D image. The device became popular in the 1850s when it was used to view stereo cards. These cards had two images that were slightly different, and when viewed through the stereoscope, they created a 3D image.


In the late 19th century, photography became a popular medium for capturing 3D images. In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer invented the wet plate collodion process, which allowed photographers to capture high-quality images. In the 1860s, photographers started using stereo cameras to capture two images simultaneously, which were then viewed through a stereoscope.

In 1893, William Friese-Greene invented the first 3D movie camera, which used two lenses to capture images. However, the camera was never used commercially, and it was not until the 1950s that 3D movies became popular.

In the early 20th century, 3D technology continued to evolve, with the invention of the anaglyphic process, which used red and blue filters to create a 3D image. In the 1950s, polarized glasses were introduced, which allowed viewers to watch 3D movies without the need for colored filters.

In conclusion, the early developments of 3D technology laid the foundation for the creation of 3D modeling, printing, and movies. Stereoscopy and photography were the first technologies that allowed people to view images in 3D, and they paved the way for the creation of more advanced 3D technologies.

The Birth of 3D Cinema

The history of 3D cinema dates back to the late 19th century when William Friese-Greene, a British film pioneer, filed a patent for a 3D film process. However, due to the obtrusive mechanics behind this method, theatrical use was not practical at the time.

The First 3D Movie

The first commercially released 3D film was “The Power of Love” in 1922. This film also marked the first 3D film to make use of anaglyph glasses. Anaglyph glasses use lenses of opposite colors, and when combined, they create a 3D effect. The film was screened in a limited number of theaters but did not gain much popularity.

The Golden Age of 3D Cinema

The 1950s marked the golden age of 3D cinema. Hollywood studios began experimenting with 3D technology, and a series of 3D movies were released, including “House of Wax,” “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” and “Dial M for Murder.”

However, the popularity of 3D cinema declined in the late 1950s due to several factors, including the high cost of producing 3D films, the discomfort of wearing 3D glasses for an extended period, and the lack of quality in some 3D films.

In the 1980s, 3D cinema experienced a revival with the release of “Jaws 3-D” and “Friday the 13th Part III.” However, the quality of these films was not up to par, and the trend did not last long.

In recent years, 3D cinema has made a comeback with the release of movies like “Avatar,” “Gravity,” and “The Hobbit” trilogy. The technology has improved, and the use of 3D has become more widespread in the film industry.

Overall, the history of 3D cinema has been a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs. However, the technology continues to evolve, and we can expect to see more 3D movies in the future.

Modern Applications

3D technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1960s. Today, it is used in a variety of fields, from entertainment to medicine to manufacturing. Here are a few examples of modern applications of 3D technology.

3D Printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital file. It has revolutionized the manufacturing industry by allowing for the creation of complex shapes and designs that were previously impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing techniques.

Some of the benefits of 3D printing include:

  • Reduced waste: 3D printing produces less waste than traditional manufacturing methods.
  • Faster production: 3D printing can produce parts and prototypes quickly, reducing the time it takes to bring a product to market.
  • Customization: 3D printing allows for the creation of unique, customized products.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that uses 3D modeling and simulation to create a computer-generated environment that simulates reality. VR applications are used in a variety of fields, including entertainment, education, and healthcare.

Some of the benefits of VR include:

  • Immersive experiences: VR allows users to experience environments and situations that would be difficult or impossible to recreate in real life.
  • Training: VR can be used to train individuals in a variety of fields, from pilots to surgeons.
  • Therapy: VR can be used as a tool for therapy, helping individuals overcome phobias and anxiety disorders.

Medical Imaging

Medical imaging refers to the use of 3D technology to create images of the human body for diagnostic and treatment purposes. It has revolutionized the field of medicine by allowing doctors to see inside the body without invasive procedures.

Some of the benefits of medical imaging include:

  • Early detection: Medical imaging can detect diseases and conditions at an early stage, allowing for early intervention and treatment.
  • Precision: Medical imaging allows doctors to see the exact location and extent of a disease or condition, allowing for more precise treatment.
  • Minimally invasive procedures: Medical imaging can be used to guide minimally invasive procedures, reducing the need for open surgery.

In conclusion, 3D technology has a wide range of modern applications, from 3D printing to virtual reality to medical imaging. These applications have revolutionized their respective fields and are continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible with 3D technology.


In conclusion, the history of 3D technology dates back to the 19th century when the stereoscope was invented. Since then, the technology has evolved tremendously, and we can now create 3D models using computer graphics software and 3D printing devices.

Charles Hull’s invention of stereolithography in 1984 was a significant milestone in the development of 3D printing technology. Today, 3D printing has revolutionized various industries, including healthcare, architecture, and manufacturing.

3D films have also become popular, with the first anaglyphic movie produced in 1915. However, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that 3D films became widely available in theaters, thanks to advancements in digital cinema technology.

As we continue to make technological advancements, it’s exciting to imagine what the future holds for 3D technology. Perhaps we’ll see even more realistic 3D models and films, or maybe 3D printing will become even more accessible to the general public.

Overall, the history of 3D technology is a fascinating one, and it’s exciting to see how it will continue to shape our world in the years to come.