As you read this, we're preparing to make our annual trek to that greatest of trade shows, the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in early January each year. At the risk of seeming ungrateful, we've always wondered why anyone would spend the latter portion of the first week in January in the middle of the Nevada desert, but we make the journey, year after year, finding very little element of choice in the matter.
Imagine a group of interconnected enclosed football stadiums, and you can only begin to visualize the inside of a Consumer Electronics Show. In the course of less than a week, over 100,000 electronics-industry representatives, buyers, sellers, watchers, manufacturers, etc., will whisk through the hundreds and hundreds of exhibits, making buy and sell decisions that most of us won't see on store shelves for months, if ever. As we have those among us here who exhibit the decided traits of high-tech groupies, we invariably fall madly in need of one of those and two of those and ... you get the picture.
Imagine seeing a quite exceptional digital television exhibiting multiple screens, incredible clarity, and amazing fidelity, and discovering that no mortals will be able to obtain one until maybe next November. Or imagine running across that product that's just exactly what you've been looking for and discovering (three months later) that its reception at the Consumer Electronics Show earned it a place on the list of products that were cancelled due to lack of interest. The same phenomenon that cancels our favorite television shows now manages to follow our product choices around. These digressions aside, we're really there to follow the pendings and happenings of our own special end of the industry, and the occasion of the fifth anniversary year of the Commodore 64 seems a good time to look back, and ahead.
We attended our first Winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1980. There we introduced our then-new magazine, COMPUTE!. Commodore was an exhibitor at that show, with quite a large booth exhibiting their product mainstream: watches. In the very back corner of their booth, relegated to a lesser positioning so as not to interfere with the real business of the company, was a display of a couple of Commodore computers.
We were a very timid industry then, and there was very little in the way of activity for computer watchers at that show. Off in a separate hall, a company called Automated Simulations was demonstrating some of its software-it's the only software vendor we recall seeing then. Automated Simulations, for those of you who don't recall, is now Epyx. The intervening years have brought us great looming booths and displays from Commodore and Atari. We've also seen quite a bit of coming on strong and going away quietly: the massive personal computing extravaganzas of Texas Instruments, and Sinclair, and Acorn, and Ohio Scientific, and many, many others.
Now a great deal of the personal computing show activity has slowed. Some have moved to COMDEX, a computer-dealer/industry trade show that occurs in the fall. Some have simply opted for alternative avenues to visibility. CES is a trendy show, in part. In the midst of what one perceives as a great deal of stability among the present giants of the industry-the Sonys, the GEs, etc., one is aware of massive consumer trends moving through and around the exhibit halls. The excitement is quite real, and you can't help but be aware of the magnitude of moment in watching the first compact-disk read-only drive talk to an Atari, or be fascinated by the convergence of various product lines into an evolutionary marriage of electronic home products. So each year, while we're warming up for this, wondering why anyone would go spend a week in the Nevada desert during early January, we begin to get just a tiny bit excited, and wonder what we'll see this time.
We wanted to repeat this editorial from the January GAZETTE. As we go to press with this issue, COMDEX is beginning in Las Vegas. All indications are that it will be a very exciting show. The PC clone market is expanding rapidly, including the contributions soon to be entered by Commodore itself. 1987 is shaping up to be a very interesting year indeed.
Until next issue, enjoy your COMPUTE!.
Robert C. Lock
Editor in Chief