Although 3D appears to be a new technology, it is not quite. 3D or stereo photography first became popular around the time of the Civil War in 1861. In fact, many Civil War photographs were made specifically to be viewed in 3-D.
The Library of Congress recently released thousands of stereographic photos of the Civil War to the public, offering people a fascinating glimpse into the period of Civil War in three dimension. The original images were available as two 2D images which the Library of Congress is in the process of digitally converting them into anaglyphs. Once converted, the images will require special red-blue 3D glasses to see them in its full glory.
At the Library’s own Web site you can see more than 2,000 original Civil War glass plate and vintage card stereos. According to this Flickr page, there are more than 50,000 stereographs, spanning the 1850s to the 1930s and covering an encyclopedic array of subjects.
At the Library of Congress website you can currently view some 350 stereographs pertaining to the Civil War. The Congress will be adding more stereograph images each week until the whole collection is online. That would be some treasure.
Stone church in Centreville, Va. during the Civil War.
General Ulysses S. Grant leaning over a bench to examine a map held by General George G. Meade at a council of war in 1864.
Petersburg railroad depot in Richmond, Va., during the Civil War.
A group of nine men pose in front of a tent with a surveying instrument at left. The two men seated center and right are most likely Frederick W. Door and John W. Donn. The officer seated to the left is William H. Paine who invented the steel tape reel worn by the man standing on the right. Standing second from right appears to be Allan Pinkerton. Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the Peninsular Campaign, May-August 1862.
Photo shows ordinance in a Union artillery park near Petersburg, Va.