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CES turns 50

CES will begin its annual run in Las Vegas starting Jan. 5, and it's the big "5-0" for this showcase of consumer electronics and technology.

The show that started in one hotel ballroom has now grown into a behemoth that covers the entire city of Las Vegas with almost 200,000 people in the city for CES related activities.

CES debuted in June 1967 in New York and featured 117 exhibitors, including turntable manufacturer Scott. Details on the products it showed in 1967 are scarce, as is an explanation of what appears to be a ventriloquist's doll, but it shows that stunts and attractions were a part of CES from the very beginning. The show attracted about 17,500 attendees to the hotels where it was being held.

In year two, the world was analog, and the kings were the vinyl record and compact cassette. Developed by Philips in The Netherlands in 1962, the cassette format was beginning its journey to conquer the world in 1968 when this photograph was taken during the second year of CES.

The products might have changed, but the CES experience remains much the same in the 21st century as it did during the show's third year in 1969. Manufacturers pack their wares into flimsy wooden and metal booths and hawk them to buyers and the media, hoping to find the next hit product. CES 1996, where the rage was the new Motorola StarTac. The first flip phone on the market, it was an early taste of the connected life that was to come. It makes us wonder just how different the phones, if they are even called that, would be thought of in the future.

In 1998 the summer show was canceled. It would never return, and CES settled into its January slot in Las Vegas.

More innovation continued into the 90s with personal computers, the 2000s with mobile and smartphones and that brings us to the present.

Today, big and small companies alike continue to bring “whoa” to the floors of CES. New product categories like 3D printing and self-driving cars present unexplored new frontiers in the world of tech. And as exciting as these innovations are, we’re still just scratching the surface. Here's to 50 more!

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