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Stephenson wrote in the "Acknowledgments" to Snow Crash: The idea of a "virtual reality" such as the Metaverse is by now widespread in the computer-graphics community and is being used in a number of different ways.

In such animated avatars, the number of images as well as the time in which they are replayed vary considerably.

The words avatar (in the sense used here) and Metaverse are my inventions, which I came up with when I decided that existing words (such as virtual reality) were simply too awkward to use...after the first publication of Snow Crash, I learned that the term avatar has actually been in use for a number of years as part of a virtual reality system called Habitat..addition to avatars, Habitat includes many of the basic features of the Metaverse as described in this book.

Despite the widespread use of avatars, it is unknown which Internet forums were the first to use them; the earliest forums did not include avatars as a default feature, and they were included in unofficial "hacks" before eventually being made standard.

Other avatar systems exist, such as on Gaia Online, Wee World, Frenzoo or Meez, where a pixelized representation of a person or creature is used, which can then be customized to the user's wishes. Trutoon) where a representation is created using a person's face with customized characters and backgrounds.

Another avatar-based system is one wherein an image is automatically generated based on the identity of the poster.

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