September 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). EVL's introduction of the CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment in 1992, the first widely replicated, projection-based, walk-in, virtual-reality (VR) system in the world, put EVL at the forefront of collaborative, immersive data exploration and analytics. However, the journey did not begin then. Since its founding in 1973, EVL has been developing tools and techniques for real-time, interactive visualizations—pillars of VR. But EVL's culture is also relevant to its successes, as it has always been an interdisciplinary lab that fosters teamwork, where each person's expertise contributes to the development of the necessary tools, hardware, system software, applications, and human interface models to solve problems. Over the years, as multidisciplinary collaborations evolved and advanced scientific instruments and data resources were distributed globally, the need to access and share data and visualizations while working with colleagues, local and remote, synchronous and asynchronous, also became important fields of study. This paper is a retrospective of EVL's past 50 years that surveys the many networked, immersive, collaborative visualization and VR systems and applications it developed and deployed, as well as lessons learned and future plans.

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