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Tracing the Evolution of CES: Pioneering Hardware that Shaped the Internet Age

Date: 14/01/2024

Stuart Watkins
Dev,  News

With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wrapping up on Friday, we decided to look back at the show’s history and a deeper dive into the key hardware highlights of the Internet era.

The first-ever CES was held in June 1967 in New York City. With 200 exhibitors and about 17,500 attendees, it was a significant turnout for a debut event.

Product Focus: The focus was primarily on home entertainment electronics. It showcased products like TVs, radios, and phonograph players, reflecting the consumer electronics interests of that era. These included:

  1. Television Technology: A major highlight was showcasing the latest in television technology, a rapidly evolving field at the time. This included advancements in colour television, becoming more prevalent and affordable for the average consumer.
  2. Audio Equipment: High-fidelity (hi-fi) audio equipment, including stereos and other sound-enhancing technologies, featured prominently. This was when the transition from mono to stereo sound was a significant leap forward in audio quality.
  3. Emerging Portable Electronics: Portable electronics, like transistor radios and small-screen portable televisions, were also highlighted, marking the beginning of a trend towards more personal and portable devices.
  4. Foundations for Future Shows: The first CES laid the groundwork for future shows, establishing it as a premier event where manufacturers could showcase the latest in consumer electronics. It was evident from this first show that CES would become a key venue for announcing innovative products and technologies.

The significance of the first CES lies not just in the products showcased but in its establishment as a pivotal event for the tech industry, a tradition that continues to this day, evolving with technological advancements and market trends.

The world of consumer tech has seen remarkable innovations over the years. Here’s our list of the standout consumer tech devices for each year since 1994:

1994: Apple PowerBook 500 series – Laptop – This series was one of the first to include a trackpad instead of a trackball for a pointing device, setting a new standard for laptop design.

1995: Sony PlayStation – Gaming Console – The Sony PlayStation revolutionized the gaming industry by bringing 3D graphics to a mainstream home console, marking Sony’s prominent entry into the gaming market.

1996: Nokia 9000 Communicator – Mobile Phone – Regarded as one of the first smartphones, the Nokia 9000 Communicator combined a mobile phone with features of a personal digital assistant (PDA), featuring a full QWERTY keyboard and a large display.

1997: Nokia 6110 – Mobile Phone – Nokia’s model was one of the first phones with an integrated antenna and the Snake game.

1998: Apple iMac G3 – Desktop Computer – Apple’s model is known for its innovative design and use of USB ports.

1999: BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld – Email Pager – BlackBerry’s device that pioneered the concept of a mobile email device.

2000: Sony PlayStation 2 – Gaming Console – Sony’s console that became the best-selling gaming console of all time.

2001: Apple iPod – Portable Media Player – Apple’s model revolutionised how people listen to and purchase music.

2002: Nokia 7650 – Smartphone – Nokia’s first phone with a built-in camera.

2003: BlackBerry Quark – Smartphone – BlackBerry’s series that marked its transition to more phone-like devices.

2004: Motorola Razr V3 – Mobile Phone – Motorola’s model is known for its slim design and metal construction.

2005: Xbox 360 – Gaming Console – Microsoft’s console that introduced HD gaming and a robust online experience.

2006: Nintendo Wii – Gaming Console – Nintendo’s model that popularised motion-controlled gaming. A close runner-up was the PS3. At Devstars, we created a website for Sony’s launch venue, PS3 Three Rooms, and it was the hottest ticket in town.

2007: Apple iPhone – Smartphone – Apple’s model that revolutionised the smartphone industry with its touchscreen interface.

2008: MacBook Air – Laptop – Apple’s model that set a new standard for thin and light laptops.

2009: Amazon Kindle 2 – E-reader – Amazon’s model that boosted the popularity of e-books.

2010: Apple iPad – Tablet – Apple’s model created a new tablet computing market.

2011: Samsung Galaxy S II – Smartphone – Samsung’s model that signalled its rise in the smartphone market.

2012: Google Nexus 7 – Tablet – Google’s popular and affordable Android tablet was hot on the heels of the iPad and making consumer electronics history this year.

2013: Oculus Rift (Development Kit) – Virtual Reality Headset – Oculus’s model that revived interest in virtual reality technology.

2014: Amazon Echo – Smart Speaker – Amazon’s model that introduced Alexa and popularised voice assistants.

2015: Apple Watch – Smartwatch – Apple’s model that became a leading product in wearable technology.

2016: DJI Mavic Pro – Drone – DJI’s model that made high-quality aerial photography accessible to the masses.

2017: Nintendo Switch – Gaming Console – Nintendo’s model that blended home and portable gaming uniquely.

2018: Apple iPhone X – Smartphone – Apple’s model that introduced facial recognition and a new design.

2019: Samsung Galaxy Fold – Foldable Smartphone – Samsung’s model that was one of the first mainstream foldable smartphones.

2020: Sony PlayStation 5 – Gaming Console – Sony’s console that brought new levels of performance and immersive gaming.

2021: Apple M1 Chip – Microprocessor – Apple’s model that marked the company’s shift to its own silicon, offering remarkable performance gains.

2022: Meta Quest 2 – Virtual Reality Headset – Meta’s (formerly Facebook) model that provided an affordable, standalone VR experience.

2023: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max – Smartphone – Apple’s model features advanced smartphone lineup features.

What products do you think will be making consumer electronics history in 2024?

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