The history of CES

Nowadays CES is a big part of the tech (gadget) world! But how did this expo become so big and what does the history of CES look like? We’ve made a brief overview of the start and some of the highlights in the history of CES.

The history of CES – the beginning

The very first time CES was held was in June 1967, in New York. This was a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show, which was, up until then, the main event. During this first CES event 14 exhibitors were present, including Philips, Motorola and LG.

The history of CES - CES 1967

Image via the Verge

From 1978 until 1994 CES was held twice a year. In January the WCES (Winter Consumer Electronics Show) was held in Las Vegas and in June the SCES (Summer Consumer Electronics Show) was held in Chicago. Because the Chicago version started to loose it’s popularity the organizers decided to try something new and move the show around the country. Unfortunately this didn’t make a difference, which is why in 1998 the summer version was cancelled and the format was changed into a once a year event. This became CES Las Vegas.

CES 1972

Image via PCworld

Highlights CES

At the beginning of CES not a lot of innovative technology was announced. Until the first videocassette recorder (the N1500) was revealed by Philips, in 1970. Until that moment a VCR could cost up to $50.000 and was mainly used by TV stations, but the Philips model with build in tuner was only $900. This would become the first home video recorder!

History of CES - the first VCR

Image via Engadget

Atari 400 & 800

The Atari 400 and 800 computers were introduced during CES in 1979. These were not the first home computers, the first home computers were the Apple II, Commodore PET and the TRS-80. But the Atari 400 and 800 were the first home computers with custom co processors that featured excellent sound and gaming possibilities. Including iconic games, such as Star raiders, these Atari’s were the first real gaming PC’s. The names were initially based on memory, 4KB RAM for Atari 400 and 8KB for Atari 800. But at the same time as the Atari’s were released, RAM prices were dropping, which is why the machines both got 8KB, with 4kx1 usage. The computers were for sale for $550 and $1000.

Atari 400 - History of CES

Image via wikipedia

The first CD-player

The Compact Disc was considered high tech in 1981. The hard drive only offered 5MB capacity, CD’s offered up to 650MB. However, at the beginning these were only usable as audio format. This is exactly why Sony’s CD player got a lot of attention during CES. The CD-player was supposed to be more trustworthy than vinyl and allowed you to smoothly play song after song and skip tracks, without delay or malfunction. In 1982 the CD-player was released in Japan, followed by the US in the following year. Despite it’s price ($1.000) the CD-player was sold over 400.000 times in the US alone. With the release of the CD-player, CD sales were huge, with a peak of 200 billion pieces in 2007. After 2007 decreased more and more because of digitization.

The first CD-player - CES

Image via Engadget

Nintendo NES

Between 1980 and 1985 the gaming industry crashed, because consumers lost their faith in the gaming industry due to over-marketing and lack of games, despite an overflow of game consuls. Notwithstanding, in 1985 Nintendo brought out Nintendo Entertainment Games (NES) during CES. The NES consul came with 17 games, including Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. In 1988 Nintendo sold an impressing 7 million NES consuls.

In 1990 there were over 1600 journalists present during CES. From this moment on there were more journalists than regular consumers present at the event.

CES 1990

Image via CES

Apple’s first announcement at CES

Usually Apple didn’t make an appearance at CES, but in 1992 they had something they wanted to pitch to the audience. In that time portable gadgets, such as the GameBoy, were a big hype. Nobody heard of an MP3-player yet and nobody owned a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) yet. Everybody was talking about the PDA, though. In his keynote speech Apple CEO John Sculley announced the pocket-sized PDA’s, the Newton MessagePad. This would be for sale for under $1000,- On stage Apple showed how you could use the PDA to order a pizza by means of sending out a fax. The hype about this announcement was enormous!

Popularity CES

Since the beginning of CES, the first show in 1967, a lot of electronic products, developments and concepts were introduces at CES. Some exhibitors have come and gone, some kept coming back every year. The number of visitors keeps on growing, in 2018 there were over 100.000 industry attendees and over 6500 journalists present! In the history of CES, CES proves to be one of the most popular expo’s in the world year after year, as is CES 2019!