The Video Gaming History of CES

Posted on January 1, 2011

The Video Gaming History of CES

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, has been running since 1967 where it was spawned as a spinoff of the popular Chicago Music Show. The show has had quite a checkered history, and for 16 years it actually ran twice each year, resulting in the Winter CES and the Summer CES. The winter shows were held in Vegas, and the summer shows were kept in Chicago. But, as summer shows in Chicago waned in popularity, they decided to move the show to different cities, and in 1995 they held the winter show in Vegas, but the planned Philadelphia show was canceled due to the first-ever E3 in Los Angeles.

The following year, they had a summer show in Orlando, but in 1998 the planned Atlanta show was canceled, and CES became a Vegas-only winter show. It’s been going strong ever since, and typically attracts well over 100,000 attendees. However, it has waned in popularity as a location to announce new game hardware and software, since E3 and shows like the Tokyo Game Show and gamescom have grown in popularity.

But don’t count CES out, because it’s still the one of the biggest trade shows in the world, and it specializes in gadgets, electronics, bizarre gizmos, and high-tech gee-whizzery. We know that Capcom will be talking Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds at the show, and that Microsoft has something up their sleeve. We’ll be talking to tons of third-party companies like Razer, SteelSeries, Nyko, and more, and you can read all about it here.

But what about the gaming announcements from the days of CES past? Read on to check out the highlights through the years, and then imagine what we might be seeing this week.

  • 1975: Pong is demonstrated at the summer CES, but fails to make a splash. People were still wary after the Magnavox Odyssey had tanked.
  • 1982: The Commodore 64 ushers in a new age in gaming, and stunned audiences at the winter CES with its $595 price. As a sidenote, this is the computer that I learned how to play Zork on, and thus fell in love with interactive fiction.
  • 1983: Coleco shows off “A video race car!” while Atari shows off some Sesame Street games. Yikes. Check out the video.

  • 1984: Commodore introduces the Amiga Computer at the winter CES, which gave games a graphical kick in the pants.
  • 1984: Coleco showed off their line of tabletop video games, which were meant to mimic their popular arcade counterparts. Sadly, the gameplay was extremely lacking.
  • 1985: Amiga introduced some new tech at CES by having Andy Warhol paint a picture of Debbie Harry on one of their system. Yes, really.

  • 1985: Nintendo finally revealed the North American version of their popular Famicom system at the summer CES. The Nintendo Entertainment System would go on to dominate many lives, including mine.
  • 1988: Tetris catches the eye of Hank Rogers at CES, which leads to a deal where the game is bundled with every Game Boy sold, providing instant addiction.
  • 1990: This CES was dominated by Nintendo and Sega, and has been documented in this impressive Flick gallery. That feels like a billion years ago.
  • 1991: Remember the Philips CD-i, or compact disc interactive? Philips is hoping you don’t. They introduced the format and machines at CES in 1991, and it vanished forever in 1998, taking its terrible games with it.
  • 1995: Speaking of failures, Nintendo showed off the Virtual Boy at CES in 1995, and it later tanked. Which might be why they aren’t showing off the Nintendo 3DS. It was also their last CES. Coincidence?
  • 1996: Apple, in conjunction with Bandai, launches their Pippin gaming device, which sells only 10,000 units and fades into obscurity. Will Apple ever get back into the console gaming arena? They’re dominating the phone gaming market, so anything is possible.
  • 2001: Microsoft introduces the original Xbox at CES in a keynote speech that included both Bill Gates and The Rock. Strange, but true.

  • 2003:┬áThe Blu-ray disc was introduced, and almost immediately dismissed by nearly everyone, including USA Today. But fast-forward to CES 2008, where Warner Bros. announces it is dropping HD DVD, and that signals the end of the format, which quickly fades away. Winner? Sony and the PlayStation 3. We still hear rumblings of a possible Xbox 360 Blu-ray add-on, but that’s starting to seem less and less likely as digital downloads and streaming video get more popular.
  • 2010: Do you remember what happened at CES a year ago? Microsoft announced Game Room, Sony’s 3D offerings dominated their booth (and 3D was king of the show), while a lof of third-party peripherals were announced. What does this year hold in store? We aren’t sure yet, but find out with us here. Hopefully we’ll learn what Avatar Kinect is, and more.



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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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