Big, bigger, biggest — until, that is, it becomes even bigger.

Those may be the most apt descriptors for the CES convention, the world’s (yes) biggest consumer technology showcase. (Think of it as The Convention That Ate Las Vegas.) Four decades of partnership between the show and the city have made it one of our longest-lasting relationships, its run far exceeding any hit shows on the Strip.

Following is a primer on the history and highlights of CES. Produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), this year’s event opened Jan. 8 and continues through Jan. 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and other Las Vegas venues.

In the (electronic) beginning: CES was first held in New York City in June 1967, at the Hilton and Americana hotels as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show, which until then had been the main event for exhibitors of consumer electronics. More than 17,000 attendees showed up, as well as 200 exhibitors. Everyone marveled over the newest in transistor radios and TV sets with integrated circuits. In 1972, CES followed the motto, “Go Midwest, Young Man,” and relocated to Chicago.

Las Vegas enters the technological picture:  From 1978 to 1994, CES expanded to two shows annually. January shows were hosted by Las Vegas, helping formerly frozen attendees escape brutal winters in Chicago, which now welcomed conventioneers only in June, relinquishing its winter hosting duties.

Becoming the only game in town: When summer shows in Chicago began waning in popularity, organizers tried moving them around to other cities, including Philadelphia, Orlando and Atlanta, but they were variously cancelled or poorly attended. In 1998, Las Vegas ascended to the CES throne as the show reverted to a once-a-year format, exclusively in our welcoming city.

Hitting the techie high points: Among the seemingly endless innovations and product launches — actually, 700,000-plus — unveiled at CES over a half-century are:

  • 1970 VCR 
  • 1974 Laserdisc player
  • 1981 Camcorder and CD player
  • 1991 Interactive CD
  • 1996 DVD player
  • 1998 Hhigh-Definition television
  • 2000 Satellite radio
  • 2001 Microsoft Xbox and Plasma TV
  • 2003 Blu-Ray DVD
  • 2009 3D HDTV
  • 2010 Tablets, Netbooks and Android devices
  • 2011  Smart appliances and Ford’s Electric Focus model
  • 2013 Ultra-HDTV and driverless auto technology
  • 2014 3D printers, sensor and wearable technology
  • 2015 Virtual reality

Marquee bigwigs: Speakers over the years have included:

  • Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates
  • Robert Iger of the Walt Disney Company
  • Consumer Technology Association President/CEO, Gary Shapiro
  • Motorola Chairman Ed Zander
  • Dell Inc. founder, Michael Dell

Author, author: Beyond guiding CTA and CES, Shapiro has penned three books that have contributed significantly to the canon of technology literature: The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream (Beaufort, 2011); Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses (Harper Collins, 2013); and the just-published Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation (William Morrow, 2018).

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada: Since first gracing us in 1978 and through the conclusion of this year’s event, it’s estimated that CES will have drawn approximately 4.6 million visitors to town with a corresponding ca-ching factor, ringing up $5.4 billion in added revenue for our pockets.

Expansion fever: At CES 2018, the show set a size record of 2.78 million net square feet of exhibitor space, brimming with 4,473 exhibitors. This year, officials expect to exceed 2.9 million net square feet, and top 4,500 exhibitors.

CES 2019 is expected to bring:

  • 180,000 visitors to town Jan. 8-11
  • $264.2 million economic impact
  • 50,000 professionals from more than 155 countries
  • Additional flights, totaling 9,600 more international and 10,200 more domestic airline seats
  • 1,100 speakers
  • 6,500 media representatives

All around the town: CES 2019 is anchored at the Las Vegas Convention Center/World Trade Center Las Vegas, but will also display its wares at 10 other venues: Aria, Encore at Wynn, Park MGM/Park Theater, The Palazzo, Renaissance Las Vegas, the Sands Expo, The Venetian, Vdara, Westgate Las Vegas and Wynn Las Vegas.

A show of gratitude through the years: Beyond paying tourism/business dividends, CES has also demonstrated its commitment to the Las Vegas community through numerous CTA charitable gestures. Among them:

  • Since 2009, CTA has donated more than $700,000 to local sustainability and educational initiatives.
  • At CES 2018, exhibitors donated more than 187,000 pounds of materials to Goodwill of Southern Nevada, Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity Village, Teachers Exchange and HELP of Southern Nevada; and more than 1,500 tons of materials were recycled at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo and the Venetian.

A show of gratitude this year: Renewing its charitable initiatives, CES 2019 will:

  • Make security-related donations of $25,000 each to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority security and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, both for emergency response training and equipment; and to the police department’s foundation to fund its Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC).
  • Donate $15,000 to Green Our Planet for garden classrooms in the Clark County School District.
  • Contribute $10,000 to Touro University Nevada to build outdoor LED lighting around campus.

To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at


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by Steve Bornfeld/Las Vegas Newswire

by Steve Bornfeld/Las Vegas Newswire