Comdex celebrated its 20th birthday this year with a look back to the halcyon days of December 1979 when the first expo took place.
The Las Vegas show then comprised 160 exhibitors and 4,000 visitors crowded into one hotel, while this year saw more than 2,000 exhibitors and 200,000 attendees. Although numbers have been fairly stable since 1995, Comdex has now grown from its not very grandiose beginnings to host 21 annual events in 17 countries.
Among the hot products in 1979, however, were Wang's word processing application, Digital Equipment's Datasystem minis, Timeplex's modems and Hazeltine's monitors.
But it was not until 1983 that Bill Gates made his debut as a keynote speaker. He has been back eight times since then and has not missed a year since 1993 when Michael Spindler, Apple's then chief executive (CEO), was the lone keynoter - although he only took the stage once.
Interestingly though, Steve Jobs, Apple's founder and current interim CEO, has never given a keynote at Comdex and John Sculley, another former Apple CEO, has also only keynoted once - in 1984.
The year of Gates' debut also yielded some interesting products, however. IBM announced its PC XT with a whopping 10Mb hard drive and 128K of RAM and also introduced the extremely unsuccessful PC jr.
Gates used his speech to tell the world about Microsoft's "Multi Tool" Word application, while Novell introduced its Netware network operating system to the world.
Outside of the Comdex show floor, 1983 was a banner year for the nascent PC industry. The microcomputer was named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine and the C++ programming language was launched.
Gates again ushered in the 1990s and brought with him Windows 3.0. The words "client/server" appeared in conference sessions for the first time and Silicon Graphics' workstations wowed attendees.
In 1993 however, Spindler was an appropriate speaker because the world saw personal digital assistants for the first time - and people were fascinated by the Apple Newton, although they did not buy many.
IBM's Lou Gerstner, meanwhile, made his only appearance at Comdex in 1995 when he introduced the concept of "net centric" computing. This was also, of course, the year of Windows and Office 95 and technical sessions included a comparison of the respective merits of Windows 95, IBM's OS/2 and Apple's Copeland.
In the world outside of the exhibition, however, Amazon.com was launched as was Sun's Java.
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