Go Ahead, Laugh at the Past: Tech Breakthroughs Always Start Here

The VCR made its debut at the 1970 edition of CES.

Hindsight is everything, isn’t it. And especially when it comes to technology. If we were there when the first Laserdisc Player appeared in 1974, we would have raved. And if we got our hands on that 300-pound Camcorder that debuted in 1981, we would have high-fived like ‘80s dudes.

The Consumer Electronics Show has been witness to virtually every tech boom, bust and 15-minute fad since its debut in June 1967. Imagine the scene (or even the smell) of that first CES in New York City—picture the fashion, the cigarettes and the console TVs that pushed the boundaries of their time.

The VCR made its CES debut in 1970 while 8-track tapes ruled in 1971. The soon-to-be-ubiquitous CD player bowed in 1981. DVD players blew people’s minds in 1996 while HDTV took the show by storm in 1998. All it did in the ensuing years was to grow and grow and grow.

How big has CES gotten? Well, that inaugural show back in ’67 hosted 14 exhibitors who nestled into 100,000 square feet of space. By contrast, the 2015 edition saw a staggering 3,600 exhibitors across 2.2 million square feet in the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center. 170,000 wide-eyed attendees were there to sift through what might be tomorrow’s greatest successes (or objects of derision).


Go on, laugh at the past. But remember this: someday today’s future will be that past you’re laughing at.

Gavin O’Hara is Lenovo’s Brand Newsroom Lead.


All photos courtesy Consumer Technology Association.