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Consumer Electronics Show Opens in Las Vegas

January 6, 1990

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Players in the world of consumer electronics were given an upbeat assessment of the industry Saturday, then fanned out over acres of gadgetry to get an idea of what’s hot for the 1990s.

The Consumer Electronics Show - dubbed a Disneyland for adults - kicked off its four-day run on an optimistic note, with industry leaders challenging manufacturers and dealers to build on the successes of the 1980s.

Some 70,000 manufacturers, dealers and journalists from the United States and 80 foreign countries will view thousands of products showcased over 800,000 square feet of display space before the show ends Tuesday.

Some 1,400 exhibitors are displaying 95 product lines at the city’s convention center and four major hotels.

Wholesale consumer electronic sales reached $32.2 billion in 1989, a 6 percent increase over the previous year, Frank Myers, president of Wells- Gardner Electric Corp., told delegates in a keynote address.

He predicted that figure for 1990 would reach $33.4 billion.

″Most economists believe the U.S. economy is heading for a ‘soft landing’ in 1990 rather than the recession that was widely predicted earlier,″ Myers said.

Bernard Brennan, chairman of Montgomery Ward & Co., acknowledged that the difficult economy and competition among many stores selling electronics present challenges for the 1990s.

Successful retailers ″will have a passion for serving customers,″ he said. ″The winners will be entrepreneurial. They will be opportunistic.″

A major factor that will affect the 1990s is the ″graying of the consumer base,″ Brennan said.

″This change in demographics to an older population is developing the concept of ‘cocooning’ - that is, spending a great deal of time in one’s home. This trend offers all of us an opportunity to fulfill the ‘home theater’ needs of this growing consumer group,″ Brennan said.

One of the highlights of the show is the merger of audio and video products to create a ″home theater.″

This year’s show also features VCRs, compact disc players, fax machines, talking auto alarm systems, high definition television, laptop computers, whole-house home automation products and cellular phones.

Also spotlighted will be the growing trend of home offices. Recent statistics show that nearly 25 million Americans work at home, and about 25 percent of those households contain two home-based professionals, said Dennis Corcoran, the show’s vice president.

″You are going to see a lot of personal electronics at the show, items that can be used in the home office such as translators, computers, and hand held items you can take on the go,″ said show spokeswoman Cynthia Upson. ″Now you can take a fax machine and cellular phone with you, and can fax something back to your office.″

Another feature is home automation, which was introduced in the infancy stage at last year’s show.

″This system enables all the different appliances and consumer electronics products to talk to each other,″ Ms. Upson said. ″You can use your telephone to lock doors while you’re away, turn on alarm systems, turn on the dishwasher, program the VCR, set heating or air conditioning.″