The Biggest Moments Of CES. Ever!!!

December 29, 2014

Think everything from UHD TV’s, Booth Babes and VCR’s plus a few bloopers

It’s a whole lotta things, the Consumer Electronics Show, with its mix of indie dreamers and corporates. It started off back in 1967 as a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show. In the 50 years since, it’s been at the heart of technology launches, some of which are now standards, many of which have simply vanished from the radar. Right from the humble VCR to Steve Ballmer and Blue Screens of death, here are a few biggies from the past few decades of the Consumer Electronics Show.


The VCR Days

Remember the days when you actually had to speak to a human to get your movies? Watching Krubrick on VHS may not sound like much now, but back in 1976, this was the ultimate deal breaker. A sort of home theater mechanism for the everyman.  JVC’s Vidstar video player system hit the CES floor with a massive bang during the first ever CES in 1977 held in New York City. Relatively expensive at $1,280 per unit and $20 a tape, but it changed home viewing for ever.

jcrop-previewAtari comes home

The Video Computer System (VCS) was unveiled by Atari at CES 1977 as the first interchangeable console system in North America. Gamechanger? Sure. It also meant the death of kids playing football in the outdoors.

Gates’ Blue Screen Dilemma

Think of it as a moment when the machines started fighting back. It was CES 2005, and Bill Gates was premiere a new Windows Media Center and new game for the XBox during his keynote. Sad end result? A complete computer breakdown that led to a Blue Screen of Death. We’re assuming blue wasn’t the color of the slip a few employees got that day.

Plasmas are introduced

A definitive moment for the end-consumer viewing experience, at CES 2001, Toshiba and Hitachi introduced their first HD-level plasma TVs. This included Hitachi’s CMP4120HDUS, a 42” 16:9 plasma 1024 x 1024 HDTV.

And the winner is: Blu-Ray!

Blu-Ray was showcased for the first time at CES 2004, and made a massive impression. Four years later, it was a close tie-in between Toshiba’s HD HD format and the BluRay. Shortly before the 2008 CES, Warner Bros announced that their entire portfolio would be printed solely on Blu-Ray. End result?  The likes of Universal and Paramount switched sides, and Blu-Ray became the standard.

Xbox takes on the rest

After years of a gaming scenario dominated by Playstation and Nintendo, at CES 2001, Bill Gates showcased the first XBox console. Not only was Microsoft looking beyond the home PC market, the Xbox had its eye on doubling as an entertainment console.

Booth babes

We all wonder about what those scantily clad booth models really add to the product showcases. At the 2012 CES, a few media outlets questioned the presence of these booth babes. So in 2013, the CES organizers released statements countering this. Their logic? Enforcing business casual attire for the exhibitor personnel would be impractical and would detract CES staff on the ground from their main focus of providing security. Hmmm…

The humble CD Player

LaserDiscs may have died a plague-filled fast death, but this player was to spur a vibrant part of Sonys consumer product line during the 80’s. Based on early prototypes developed by Philips and Sony, the two brands collaborated to bring out a model that was commercially available in 1982.

jcrop-previewThat Qualcomm Keynote

This was one quirky keynote, a rare years when Microsoft wasn’t at the helm. But in 2013, Qualcomm’s Paul Jobs turned out to be setting the stage for a typical Steve Ballmer enthu-routine, as he showed off Windows 8 and the Windows Phone. Cut to seriously gory scene showcased by Guillermo del Toro to demo Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. Big Bird and then a developer in a creepy Birdketeer outfit. Desmond Tutu. An all-electric Rolly Royce on stage. And a final performance by Maroon 5, which couldn’t be live-streamed because CES didn’t have the rights. Which is why they just layered a Dido track on the audio. But of course.


Plasma’s go 152”

This was seriously the heydays of the plasma, as brands went overboard for the biggest and largest. At CES 2010, nothing compared to Panasonic’s massive 152″ 2160p 3D plasma. To get an idea of how good Panasonic had it at the time, they shipped 19.1 million plasma TV panels that year.

The Camcorder age

We might be used to itsy bitsy GoPro’s that shoot in 4K, but three decades back these were massively bulky, complicated and relatively elusive. JVC and Sony showed the first shoulder-mounted camcorders at CES in 1981. These recorded directly to VHS or Betamax cassettes, but wouldn’t become commercially available until 1983.

Have a few suggestions on devices/moments that you feel need to be added to the list? Write in and let us know!!

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2015 and 2016. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering.  Reach him at: