Memories of Consumer Electronics Shows of gone Past!

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In the last two days, I can’t begin to mention the number of instances in my Bloglines that I have seen mention of the 2007 Consumer Electronic Show aka C.E.S. being held in Las Vegas right now, from January 8-11, 2007.

Been There, Done That!

Our family was one that used to regularly go to these Consumer Electronics Shows twice a year .. that is when it used to happen twice a year .. (January in Las Vegas and June in Chicago). I would usually go to the June show at McCormick Place in Chicago, as I was in High School and University during those years. My older brother would go with my dad or both my folks and my younger brother to the Las Vegas show without me.

Back in the times that we started to go .. it was about 1977’ish .. It was less than 1-year after they introduced the VHS video cassette. Naturally, that was just a fad!~ I think I still have in my basement that sample Hi-Fi Beta VCR with two heads and an 8 channel that even allows you to record stuff on Beta Tapes too! Surely .. the sound quality and true genious of that modified consumer electric product was promised to be the high definition video cassette ahead of its time .. and bring that newcomer VHS product to its downfall.

We were consumers, but we were also distributors, wholesalers and importers. We had a merchandising company that more or less concentrated on electronic devices like watches, and other analog and digital products, but I only say that as it was our biggest product line .. timepieces. There were many products we were seeking and represented during those years .. If we had 100 different products, 10% were clock related, the rest were stuff like that Hi-Fi beta machine.

cosmic-guerilla-1979.jpgI also had an amusement device company with my older brother and back in 1979, while we were in Chicago, we started to hook up with pinball companies (like Bally etc) and other “electronic” amusement device companies. Ever since that PONG became popular around 1975/6 in Canada . we eventually found a company called Universal who had the greatest video game ever created .. COSMIC GUERILLA (shown on the right here). It was one of our greatest producing products that ever resulted from going to the Chicago C.E.S. show.

Anyway .. In 1981 and 1982 we started to shift our business from consumer electronics to confectioneries. We were selling meat snacks, CO2 packed sandwiches that needed to be refrigeration .. and other snacks and candy. So, “technically” there *REALLY* was no reason to go to the C.E.S. shows once a year, yet alone twice a year!

But – as I mentioned above .. VHS was catching on in the late 1970’s and early 1981’s and guess what else was becoming popular?

From 1980 to 1982 – sure .. we looked around for opportunities – but, towards the latter years all we would be doing after Day-1 is … getting in line and getting the autograph. I had TONS of them, all between 1979 to 1982, and had them meticulously packed in a dustproof plastic and hidden in one of my unpacked boxes from House #1 move .. way back in 1993 .. that I never opened.

Well, I found that box when I was cleaning up my basement of my current House #3 back in the fall of 2005 – and laughed, and showed my wife! And you know what she said? To Ebay They Must Go ~ … *sigh* .. I put them up all in one sale and after my 50th bid on them, I knew immediately that I made a mistake and should have auctioned them off individually. I just couldn’t believe that autograph pictures made out to me, “Hartley” .. had any value. Did I blow it .. I could have made at least 10 times what I ended up selling them for. And, I should note – it was just another junk item from my basement that brought me found money from Ebay – so, I was totally happy with the low 3 figure amount that I did get at that time .. it paid some bill or other.

Here’s one of the 38 autographs I had in my collection. Naturally, I felt it necessary to scan each one *cough,cough* for the Ebay auction.


Yes … That’s Annette Haven. I also had autographs of Loni Saunders, Misty Dawn, Kimberly Carson, Someone named Dominique, Someone named Angel, Penthouse Pet Corrine Alphen, Shauna Grant, Juliet Anderson, Tiffany Clark, Samantha Fox, Vanessa Del Rio, Lisa de Leeuw, Kay Parker, Penthouse Pet Sheila Kennedy, Penthouse Pet Michelle Bauer, Lindy Shaw, I even had Jayne Kennedy, My favorite autographer Kelly Nichols, Penthouse Pet Barbara Corser, Penthouse Pet Debbie Zullo, Janey Robbins, Hyapatia Leem Blair Castle, Cody Nichole, Kitten Natividad (which brought me the most queries on Ebay), another favorite Seka, and about 12 other stars that signed their name and greeting on just a face picture so I never really knew who they were anyway.

There were two pictures, that were the same that had more than one person in it .. Kimberly Carson and Misty Dawn for the cassette cover California Valley Dolls with John C. Holmes .. I remember getting his autograph too – because, well my mom’s side of the family shares the very same last name – and I thought it would be cool. Unfortunately, I will not go into details how a pair of cats named “Kitty” and “Alley” were chasing each other and stumbled on a box of photos and shredded that, some other newspapers that I paid money to insert a mockup of myself in 1880’s black and white newspaper headlines .. plus some other collectible matchbooks were destroyed. Needless to say, 3 years later when he passed away I pretty much thought .. Geesh, I could have made some extra cash on that autograph!

As you can see … after meeting all those people and going to these show for about 4 years in a row and stopped when they invented the CD player .. It would be a long day in HELL if they *THINK* that something as flimsy as a piece of glass could ever replace the good old 33′ Ten Inch Record! Who were they kidding? Besides .. I didn’t want to worry .. I had a great Beta video collection and an astounding record collection! Still do! Mind you .. I can’t play them on anything.

But .. if you are going to the show .. a word of advice.. Enjoy! And, keep your receipts .. I’m sure your accountant will be able to write off a portion of the convention as an expense for your business.


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