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(Consumer Electronics Show) A major trade show for consumer electronics, audio/video and computer hardware and software held every January in Las Vegas. Sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the 2020 show drew approximately 100,000 industry attendees, 68,000 exhibitor personnel and 6,000 in media. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 show was entirely online and became the largest digital tech event in history with nearly 2,000 companies unveiling their innovations.

The first CES was in New York in 1967 and subsequently in Las Vegas in the winter, occupying the Las Vegas Convention Center and several hotels. For many years, there was a Chicago CES in the summer. Major products have been introduced at the show, including the VCR, CD, DVD and HDTV. When the huge COMDEX computer show in Las Vegas was abolished in 2004, CES became the largest technology expo in the U.S.

High-Performance Audio
For several years, CES hosted a High-Performance Audio expo that brought together hundreds of audiophile equipment vendors and their new products. The audio vendors demonstrated their equipment in hotel rooms in order to audition their systems in isolation (see audiophile). See trade shows, COMDEX and consumer electronics.

A Gigantic Show
For people in the field who love gadgets, CES is Nirvana and a lot of fun. Like COMDEX used to be, CES is a huge show and just as exhausting with long lines for hotel buses and the Vegas monorail.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



public demonstrations of achievements in the field of mankind’s material and spiritual activity.

Present-day exhibitions, in spite of their many titles and organizational forms, may be classified in definite ways. (1) They may be classified by purpose, such as trade fairs organized basically for a commercial goal or exhibitions held for educational purposes, that is, to acquaint people with artistic creations and scientific-technical progress and achievements in fields like industry and transport (these do not, as a rule, pursue directly commercial goals). (2) They may be classified according to the periodic intervals in which they are held, such as regular exhibitions (held annually, every other year, every third year, etc.), irregularly held, organized in connection with an anniversary date, congress, conference, or other event; and continuous (for example, the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy of the USSR). (3) They may be classified according to the nature and content of the objects exhibited, such as general exhibitions, where the products and achievements of all branches of science, technology, culture and the economy are demonstrated, and specialized exhibitions, which en-compass one or several closely related branches of industry, agriculture, art, and the like. (4) Finally, exhibitions may be classified by the composition of the participants, such as worldwide, international, national, and regional exhibitions.

The first exhibitions in Europe were organized at the end of the 16th century and had purely demonstrative goals (collections of works by apprentices of medieval monastery schools and artisans’ workshops). With the development of capitalist relations, exhibitions gradually acquired a commercial character. With the rise of capitalist enterprises (manufactures), local trade fairs began to appear where products were demonstrated (such as fabrics and Gobelin tapestries). Such exhibitions were organized in Paris (1763), Dresden (1765), Berlin (1786), Munich (1818), and Manchester (1843). The role of the exhibition grew during the period of the transition from handmade goods to machine-made production, especially in connection with the Industrial Revolution (during the last third of the 18th century) and the formation of nationwide capitalist markets. Along with purely commercial goals, exhibitions also began to serve as a means of demonstrating technical achievements. The large nationwide trade and industry exhibitions began to make their appearance in the 1760’s. The first such exhibitions were held in London (1761, 1767), Munich (1788), and St. Petersburg (1829). At such exhibitions commercial deals were concluded and business connections established. General national exhibitions have not lost their importance to this day and are held regularly in most countries of the world. National exhibitions abroad are organized on the basis of agreements between countries and are varied in character. Some national trade exhibitions are organized as trade centers (for example, the trade centers of the USA in London, Milan, Stockholm, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities) and as demonstration halls (for example, the Soviet exhibition halls in the socialist countries and in Iraq, India, and other countries). Frequently, national trade exhibitions are organized in the form of selling exhibitions—“General Stores” and “Weeks of the Organizing Country.” Great Britain regularly conducts “British Weeks” in the countries of Europe, Asia, America, and Australia. Many national specialized and general exhibitions are held from time to time. Examples include the British Trade and Industrial Exhibition in Moscow (1961), the Exhibition of the Scientific and Technical Achievements of the USSR in Budapest (1967), and the Trade and Industrial Exhibit of the USSR in Paris (1970). From 1946 through 1969 the USSR conducted 92 national exhibitions abroad (general and specialized), including 29 in the socialist countries. During the same period, 620 foreign national exhibitions were organized in the USSR, including 25 general and about 300 specialized exhibitions from the socialist countries.

The 19th-century development of large-scale capitalist production speeded up the growth of international economic ties and the creation of a world capitalist market. During this period there was an increase in the role of exhibitions in the development of trade, not only on a national but also on an international scale.

Great Britain, which occupied the foremost position in industry and trade among the capitalist countries, organized the first international industrial exhibition, in London in 1851, in order to propagate the principle of freedom of international trade. From 1850 to 1890 international exhibitions, for the most part of a general trade and industrial character, were organized in various cities of Europe: Munich (1854), Amsterdam, (1883), Nice (1884), Antwerp (1885), Barcelona (1888), and Hamburg (1889).

With the continued progress of science and technology, as well as the extension and specialization of capitalist production, an ever-increasing role was played by international specialized trade exhibitions, which in the 20th century gradually began to crowd out the general ones. The international character of trade exhibitions is usually determined by the number of foreign exhibitors participating in them and by the effectiveness of the commercial agreements. It is also necessary that the government of the country in which the exhibition is organized recognizes it to be “international.” The organizers are recognized as continuously operating bodies—such as directorates, chambers of commerce, and trade-industrial associations—by the authorities of the organizing countries and come together for the special purpose of the exhibition. International trade exhibitions, as a rule, are held at set, periodic intervals, such as annually or every other year. Their duration usually does not exceed three weeks. They are conducted at a permanent exhibition site at the same time and in the same city. The largest of these include the international agricultural exhibition in Hungary, the horticultural exhibition in the German Democratic Re-public, the furniture exhibition in Great Britain, the textile industry and clothing industry exhibition (TEXTIRAMA) in Belgium, the international salon of plastics, resin, and rubber (EUROPLASTIC) in France, and the exhibition of packaging (SKANPAK) in Sweden. Industrial and wholesale trading firms and organizations are allowed to participate in these international trade exhibitions. Commercial arrangements are concluded on the basis of the samples demonstrated.

Most of the present-day international commercial exhibitions are specialized. In their goals, conditions of participation, and the rights of exhibitors, they are analogous to present-day international fairs. Exhibitions bear various names. For example, in France they are called salons and fairs; in Italy, salons, exhibitions, and fairs; in West Germany, fairs and exhibitions; and in the European socialist countries, exhibitions and fairs.

International commercial exhibitions facilitate the development of world trade. The USSR accords great significance to this form of international trade ties. Prior to the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) the USSR took part in international commercial exhibitions in Tehran (1923), Paris (1928, 1929), Al Hudaydah, Yemen (1931), Hamburg (1931, 1932, 1934), Leipzig (1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941), Ankara (1929), Istanbul (1932), Tokyo (1931), Philadelphia (1938), Varna (1940), Königsberg (1931, 1933, 1940), and elsewhere. World War II (1939-45) ended the operation of most international trade exhibitions. With the renewal of their activity after the war the Soviet Union became not only an active participant (in Bombay, 1952; Erfurt, 1961; Paris, 1947, 1951; Geneva, 1960; Cairo, 1961; Oklahoma City, 1957; London, 1954; Hyderabad, 1956; and elsewhere) but also the organizer of major international trade exhibitions on its own territory. From 1964 to 1971, 16 international exhibitions were held in the USSR. Among them were the Exhibition of Construction and Highway Machinery and the Means of Mechanizing Construction Operations (Moscow, 1964), Chemistry in Industry, Construction, and Agriculture (Moscow, 1965), Modern Farm Machinery and Equipment (Moscow, 1966), Poultry-Raising—’66 (Kiev), Food Industry Machines— ’67 (Moscow), Clothing—’67 (Moscow), Household Appliances—’68 (Moscow), Fish Industry—’68 (Leningrad), Printing Machinery—’69 (Moscow), Light Industry Machinery—’70 (Moscow), Chemistry—’70 (Moscow), and Commercial Machines—’71 (Moscow).

Beginning in the second half of the 19th century the principles of exhibition display (exposition) gradually took shape. These evolved from a simple demonstration of the exhibits to their arrangement according to a program worked out in detail and using special equipment and architectural and decorative means.

The architecture of exhibitions is a special field. At first, exhibitions were adapted to existing large structures, such as palaces and riding schools, with extensive areas or with one large well-lit hall (for example, the manufactures exhibit of 1831 in the hall of the Noble Assembly in Moscow). At times, when there were numerous exhibits,supplementary temporary rooms would be attached to the principal structure (for instance, the wooden galleries at the Mikhail Riding School in St. Petersburg for the Third Agricultural Exhibition, 1860). The appearance of international industrial exhibitions led to the construction in the second half of the 19th century of special exhibition pavilions with extensive and easily surveyed interior spaces and maximum lighting. These buildings themselves were also exhibits, demonstrating the achievements of construction technology: examples include the Crystal Palace in London (Great Exhibition of 1851; engineer, J. Paxton) and the Halle des Machines at the 1889 world’s fair in Paris (architect, F. Dutert). Later the pavilions became parts of an extensive exhibition complex, which included open-air exposition plazas, greenery, and pools of water (the All-Russian Agricultural and Domestic Crafts Exhibition of 1923 in Moscow, principal architect, A. V. Shchusev; also the world fairs in Paris, 1937; New York, 1939; Brussels, 1958; Montreal, 1967; and Osaka, 1970). From the construction of temporary pavilions there was a transition to the construction of major buildings, such as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow (1939; principal architect, V. K. Oltarzhevskii), which was transformed in 1954 into the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy of the USSR. Along with these exhibition complexes (“pavilion composition”), individual centralized or block-type buildings for exhibits, which can be used for a succession of expositions, have been created. Centralized pavilions may be single-story hall-type structures with a continuous interior space without supports, designed primarily to demonstrate heavy industrial equipment (the main hall of the Palace of Exhibitions in Turin, 1948-50; engineer, P. L. Nervi); they may have a single exterior volume and inter-mediate, interval supports in the interior (the Palace of Labor in Turin, 1961; engineers, P. Nervi and A. Nervi); or they may have an interior space that is broken up vertically and horizontally (exhibition building in Vilnius, 1966; architect, V. A. Čekanauskas). The block-type pavilions include several areas designated for various functions (for instance, the pavilion in Sokol’niki Park in Moscow, 1961; architects, V. S. Vilenskii and others).


Platova, N. S. Spravochnik po mezhdunarodnym i natsional’nym vystavkam i iarmakam v Velikobritanii. Moscow, 1968.
Pavlov, K. A. Mezhdunarodnye iamarki i vystavki. Moscow, 1962.
Cherviakov, P. A. Organizatsiia i tekhnika vneshnei torgovli SSSR, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1962.
Voronov, K. G., and K. A. Pavlov. Organizatsiia i tekhnika vneshnei torgovli SSSR. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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