Holograms reached popular consciousness during the 1960s and have since left audiences alternately fascinated, bemused or inspired. Their impact was conditioned by earlier cultural associations and successive reimaginings by wider publics. Attaining peak public visibility during the 1980s, holograms have been found more in our pockets (as identity documents) and in our minds (as video-gaming fantasies and “faux hologram” performers) than in front of our eyes. The most enduring, popular interpretations of the word “hologram” evoke the traditional allure of magic and galvanize hopeful technological dreams. This article explores the mutating cultural uses of the term “hologram” as markers of magic, modernity and optimism.