The first CES was held in June 1967 in New York City. It was a spin-off from the Chicago Music Show, which until then had served as the main event for exhibiting consumer electronics. The event had 17,500 attendees and over 100 exhibitors; the kickoff speaker was Motorola chairman Bob Galvin.From 1978 to 1994, CES was held twice each year: once in January in Las Vegas known as Winter Consumer Electronics Show (WCES) and once in June in Chicago, known as Summer Consumer Electronics Show (SCES).
The winter show was successfully held in Las Vegas in 1995 as planned. However, since the summer Chicago shows were beginning to lose popularity, the organizers decided to experiment by having the show travel around to different cities starting in 1995 with a planned show in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. However, the inaugural E3 gaming show was scheduled to be held on the West Coast in May and proved a source of increasing competition, causing the Philly Summer CES show to be cancelled. The 1996 Winter show was again held in Las Vegas in January,followed by a Summer show this time in Orlando, Florida, however only a fraction of the traditional exhibitors participated. Again, the 1997 Winter show in Las Vegas was very successful. The next “Summer” show was scheduled to be held in conjunction with Spring COMDEX in Atlanta, however when only two dozen-or-so exhibitors signed on, the CES portion of the show was cancelled.
In 1998, the show changed to a once-a-year format with Las Vegas as the location. In Las Vegas, the show is one of the largest (the other being CONEXPO-CON/AGG), taking up to 18 days to set up, run and break down.