By Harry McCracken | Monday, January 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm
While rummaging through the official CES photo bank for an image of Steve Ballmer giving a CES keynote, I came across this picture of the show floor, jam-packed with booths, attendees, and stuff. (Click on it for a larger version.)
At first blush, this could be any year’s show–you can see Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, and other companies that will be at next week’s edition. I might believe you for a moment if you told me this was last year’s show, which I attended.
But it isn’t CES 2011, or 2001, or even 1991–it’s the 1980 edition. (I’m not sure whether it’s what was then called Winter CES, which was held in Las Vegas, or the summer show in Chicago.)
If you look carefully, there are lots of telltale clues that this is a CES from the distant past. For instance, Soundesign has a booth. I remember it from my 1970s/80s youth as a company that made crummy, dirt-cheap electronics products which you bought only if you couldn’t afford anything else–and didn’t know until just now that the brand name died in the 1990s.
Over at Sony’s booth, you can see that the company is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its entry into the U.S. market– a brief period in this market given that most Americans today don’t remember a world without Sony. (I also like the humongous set of headphones.)
And here are some real smoking guns, also at Sony’s booth–a man in a leisure suit, turntables, and a tiny cathode-ray TV.
While we’re at it, here are some more photos from CES’s archive. This one’s from the 1980 Winter CES, and everything about it, from the hair to the gear, tells you that it’s from another era. (But I could swear I know where it is in the main hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center–I recognize the restroom sign in the background.)
This photo’s from the first CES, held in 1967. Packard Bell–the defunct consumer electronics company, not the later maker of bad PCs–is there, touting its color TVs. Westinghouse appears to have a big booth. And Panasonic has a profusion of portable radios.
Also from 1967. I’m not sure why the ladies are wearing hats with holes in them, but it’s sort of comforting to see that people in inexplicable attire were part of the show from the beginning.
I wonder if any of the people in the above photos will attend CES 2012? For that matter, I wonder who holds the record for having attended the most editions of the show? Surely there’s somebody out there who attended in 1967 as a fresh-faced recent hire for some company who still makes the trek today as an elder statesman. Or if there isn’t, don’t tell me–I don’t want to know.