Before virtual reality (as we currently know it) became an accessible concept, it was better known as a science fiction terminology in the early to mid-1980s. Video games, simulation, and other computer-generated scenario were the realms of VR. An artificial intelligence usually dictated the rules of virtual reality, with the human merely being a player or guest in its realm.
One such award-winning - nay, triple-award-winning work of science fiction was the 1984 novel Neuromancer, by William Gibson. Neuromancer was a story within the cyberpunk genre, the first in the Sprawl trilogy, and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. It revolves around a down-and-out computer hacker in dystopian Japan, and the Matrix, which is described as "a disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination".
Theodor Nelson wrote "Interactive Systems and the Design of Virtuality" in 1980, whose terminology was believed to have inspired the term and scientific applications of "Virtual Reality", a guide written a decade later by Howard Rheingold. However, the term virtual reality is more popularly attributed to computer genius Jaron Lanier. Virtual reality had its use in computer science back then, but it was a term not tossed around casually as it is today.
The somewhat muddled usage of the term decades ago has since been more or less agreed on as being a secondary reality. However, today's practical applications, including for business, games, medicine, the arts, and politics, has made the term and all its applications accessible - even for first-time users. VR has become more interactive than ever, but more importantly, it's become even more relatable.