Virtual Reality and Motion Capture Pioneer Dave Blackburn Dies

Dave Blackburn, who was an early pioneer of virtual reality technology, has died.

Dave worked for many years in the motion capture industry and was a well known figure in the early 1990s virtual reality scene.

But his greatest love was fast pitch softball.


Dave was a good friend and had a warm welcome for everyone. His laughter was loud and infectious, and his openness and excitement about technology brought many people together.

When I first met Dave it was the early nineties at the dawn of the first age of virtual reality. We shared an interest in full body computer interfaces and VR but we both preferred talking to real people. Dave ran the well known Los Angeles Virtual Reality SIG and he was an early connector and promoter of virtual reality. He was especially interested in the use of motion capture to control avatars. Many of the ideas he shared with me for integrating computer graphics into live sports in that first conversation have since come to pass and are commonly used in televised sports today.

Dave was a well known presenter on virtual reality and related topics dating back to the 1990s. And many of his friends from those days gathered online today as word of his death spread via Facebook and other social media.

The LA SIG met at Kit and Sherry Galloway’s famous Electronic Cafe in Santa Monica and Dave personally inspired the formation of a number of other similar groups around the world that promoted virtual reality, including San Francisco’s VeRGe of which I was a co-founder. Below is an early video of Dave presenting on avatars and motion capture applications in virtual reality that you may enjoy. This was 16 years ago now.


I most recently contacted Dave when recalling his love for the game of softball in a conversation with another parent at my sons’ school.

The last interview with Dave, about his love of Fastpitch softball and his documentary on the topic, is here…/dave-blackburn-on-his-new-film…

Allan Lundell's photo.

Dave will be remembered as a technology pioneer, sportsman, friend, and all around great guy. The smile says it all.

RIP David Blackburn



2 Responses

  1. Bob Jacobson says:

    Sad news, received late. Are the VR Pioneers now in the crosshairs of Time? I hope someone captures their later-in-life insights. Having been to the frontier and back, we must have some pretty interesting observations to share with the younger generations. Dave was a great guy. I can hear his hearty laugh now.

  1. June 1, 2014

    […] Here’s a brief reflection from Peter Rothman in H+ about Dave’s life & work. […]

Leave a Reply