The other day, Second Life celebrated its 10-year anniversary. But long before that venerable virtual world came into existence, we were dreaming up images of virtual reality and cyberspace.
Top image: Tron vs. Tron Legacy
It seems like there are a few basic ways to represent "cyberspace" and virtual reality. You can have basic reality, with the occasional glitches or incongruities. You can create a surreal dreamscape that is clearly not "reality" as we know it. You can use actual computer graphics, or try to approximate computer graphics somehow using animation. Or you can just go for something extremely cartoony.
As computer animation and CG effects became more sophisticated, in the 1990s, the scope for film-makers and designers to create "computerized" looking worlds became greater — but by some point in the late 2000s, CG animation and motion-capture start being convincing enough that we no longer accept a virtual world that looks obviously computer-y or excessively 8-bit. To some extent, the evolution of our imagery around virtual worlds reflects our increased computing power and our greater sophistication when it comes to imagining our interactions with computers in general.
Just look at the difference between Tron and Tron Legacy.
For the rest of the story: http://io9.com/how-our-visions-of-virtual-reality-have-changed-in-the-582906269