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"Cyberpunk worked when the Internet was in its hand-wound crystal radio phase, when you had to be a sort of hobbyist to do e-mail, and it all had a very steep learning curve. Those days are over."
- William Gibson

Virtual Reality (Virtual Matrix)  
  An early use of a term very similar to the idea of cyberspace.  

Early use of a similar term; see The Veldt, the 1951 short story by Ray Bradbury that is probably the first full description of the concept.

"Well, this virtual matrix we're in was built up the same way. I knew you were with me, but I felt omnipotent... and lost. Then the phylogenetic codes came snapping in, one by one, and everything sort of... crystallized." She stops, perched on one leg, and looks searchingly at her Other. "What would've happened if I'd come through into here on my own? Psychosis?" "If you'd made it," Beth says. "I doubt you'd have been able to. It's a complicated trick, and only a very stable, imaginative adult mind can originate it. Youngsters entering Fourth Level are guided in. If a child did come through without support? It's a horrifying thought. Total solipsism, I suppose. Something like the cyborg Dreamvats, but worse—there'd be no constraints. A mad god in a closed universe. We stabilize our generated reality here by consensus, and that includes sophisticated social compulsions as well as the phylogenetic wired structures..."

"Basically, we're the only dysentropic probability vector in these 'virtual realities': the ontology's plastic. There's a sort of consensual cocoon around us modifying our immediate environment synchronistically."

From The Judas Mandala, by Damien Broderick.
Published by Not known in 1982
Additional resources -

The earliest use of the term is probably in Antonin Artaud's The Theatre and Its Double (1938). He describes theater as "la realite virtuelle", literally a virtual reality "in which characters, objects, and images take on the phantasmagoric force of alchemy's visionary internal dramas".

For virtual reality-stale gaming systems, be sure to see dimensino - alien entertainment center from Time is the Simplest Thing by Clifford Simak (1961) and rifle range - virtual skeet shooting designed by aliens from Way Station also by Simak (1963).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Judas Mandala
  More Ideas and Technology by Damien Broderick
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  Tech news articles related to works by Damien Broderick

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