Consumer Electronics Show

Consumer Electronics Show:

The Consumer Electronics Show, previously a semi-annual event in Las Vegas and Chicago, becomes a Las Vegas annual. The show is on.

Organizers held the first Consumer Electronics Show in New York City from June 24 to 28, 1967. The 200 exhibitors attracted 17,500 attendees to the Hilton and Americana hotels over those four days. On view: the latest pocket radios and TVs sporting (gasp!) integrated circuits.

By the next year, CES occupied three New York hotels. One radio on display was small enough to wear on your wrist, but it was no Dick Tracy–style transceiver. For two-way communication, you needed the wonder of the age: a Portable Executive Telephone. It cost more than $2,000 (that’s $12K in today’s money), weighed 19 pounds and required an FCC license to operate.

Many new products and concepts have debuted at CES over the years. (See box at left.) Some have come and gone, others have come and stayed.

CES moved to Chicago in 1972 and went to two shows a year there in 1973. Starting in 1978 the show fell into a regular rhythm: The Winter CES took place in Las Vegas in January, and the Summer CES was a June affair in Chicago.

Chicago dropped out of the picture after 1994. The Las Vegas show had been growing year by year, but the Chicago show was losing its luster. So, the Consumer Electronics Association decided to rotate the June show around the country.

Problem was, the dates picked for the June 1995 show in Philadelphia conflicted with the E3 gaming show on the West Coast. Exhibitors raised a stink, and the June CES was canceled.

There was one more summer show — in Orlando, Florida, in 1996. Only two dozen exhibitors signed up for a proposed 1997 spring CES in Atlanta. It was canceled, along with the whole idea of holding two shows a year.

Las Vegas was king. Las Vegas still reigns.

The 2010 show this week is expected to draw 110,000 people from 140 different countries. Organizers say 330 new companies will join more than 2,500 exhibitors to unveil upwards of 20,000 new products.

The Consumer Electronics Association also says each person attending the show averages 12 meetings, resulting in a total of 1.7 million meetings. That’s 1.7 megameets in our book.

Dates for future Consumer Electronics Shows — all in Las Vegas — are set right through 2022.

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