Most people also think VR is fairly new, but it actually has been around for a long time, and I mean the traditional type of VR with a headset. The first HMD was created by Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull in 1968. Due to the technology of the time, it was large and heavy, and was thus suspended from the ceiling of the research room it was in. It also only showed wireframe images. Due to it's size, it was called the Sword of Damocles. It showed a simple wireframe world. Computers of the time were not fast enough to display anything more sophisticated than a handful of glowing lines.
In the late 90's, PCs began to be fast enough to display 3D worlds, and there was a new wave of VR. I participated in these efforts; I was working on a 3D environment for CompuServe, which was the place to be at the time.
You could go to malls and participate, with an expensive HMD, in a shared virtual world with up to four people online. This was called location-based entertainment as the systems were large and expensive. Today, you can also go to VR arcades and experiment with hardware, but the exciting thing about VR today is that many of these systems are very affordable for home enthusiasts.