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CTA To Start Centennial Celebration At CES 2024

Founded as the Radio Manufacturers’ Association in 1924, CTA will kick off its centennial commemoration in Las Vegas

(image credit: Chicago Daily Tribune, Sunday, April 20, 1924)

As is its wont, the U.S. Congress determined it would levy a new 10% tax on the production of an exceptionally popular new tech device. And, unsurprisingly, the companies producing said new tech devices were unhappy with the prospect of the government laying a hefty levy on an already expensive product, potentially stifling sales as a result.

So, on Saturday night, April 19, 1924, six Chicago radio manufacturers got together at dinner and decided to form the Radio Manufacturers’ Association – RMA. Within three weeks, RMA lobbying killed the fed’s radio tax, and one of the country’s largest and most effective trade organizations ¬– now known as the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) – was born.

CES, run by CTA of course, will mark the beginning of a series of centennial celebrations. “For 100 years, CTA has ignited innovation by leading the tech industry through advocating for innovation-friendly policies, capturing emerging trends in market research, developing consensus standards, and convening innovators to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA since 1991. “The celebration of CTA’s 100th anniversary will be on full display at CES 2024 from interactive photo opportunities to an exciting look at our history and where the tech industry is heading for the next 100 years.”

CTA’s centennial will be reflected and integrated into a plethora of events at CES, beginning with the show’s theme, “Igniting Innovation Since 1924,” and Shapiro’s CTA State of the Industry keynote on January 9 at 8:30am in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom on level 5. There will be interactive anniversary events at the CTA Center in the LVCC Grand Lobby, a CTA historical timeline in the West Hall connector, and throughout the show attendees will see signs and be presented with historical photo ops.

The official founding anniversary date in mid-April falls during CTA’s TechWeek, during which CTA will gather innovators and policymakers for several events including CTA’s Digital Patriot’s Dinner and CES on the Hill. CTA also is creating digital assets for its website and social media channels to highlight key moments in CTA’s history.

CES 1967 Registration: In 1967, what would become CTA was then the Consumer Products Division, just one sector within the sprawling Electronics Industries Association (EIA). With no industry-sponsored event, most CE vendors exhibited at a number of other, largely inappropriate, trade shows, primarily the Music Show sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). In mid-1966, CPD staff VP Jack Wayman convinced the EIA board of the need for a specialty “consumer electronics show” to shine a brighter light on the industry.

From RMA to CTA

So how did the RMA evolve into CTA? The first consumer radios went on sale in late 1920 in time for a handful of early adopters to hear returns of the November presidential election in real time. Although radios cost more than $900 in 2023 dollars, by 1924 their annual factory dollar revenue reached nearly a $1 trillion in today’s dollars. More than 175,000 people – including inaugural CTA Hall of Fame inductees Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla – attended the first Radio World’s Fair in New York City in September 1924.

The first major technology shift came after WWII with the introduction of television. In 1947, only 250,000 TV sets were in use; the following year, TV set sales leaped more than 500%, following nearly the same hockey stick adoption course as radio had charted 25 years earlier and establishing a template for nearly every other disruptive tech device since.

Adapting itself to the new reality, RMA re-named itself the Radio-Television Manufacturers Association (RTMA) in 1950, updated to the Radio-Electronics Television Manufacturers Association (RETMA) in 1953, just in time for TV sales to surpass those of radio. But the RETMA era didn’t last long, either; in 1957, RETMA evolved into the more encompassing Electronic Industries Association (EIA).

With the rise of other commercial, industrial, and military/government electronics, the consumer electronics industry morphed into a division within EIA. In 1967, the Consumer Electronics Group (CEG) of EIA founded CES in two New York City hotels.

At its 50th anniversary in 1974, EIA tracked sales of just four major consumer technology product categories: TV, radio, phonograph players, and audio tape devices. The next 20 years, however, would see perhaps the greatest burst of consumer technology innovation in history, including the compact audio cassette, LCD, telephone answering machines, the cellphone, the VCR, the camcorder, the personal audio player, the microprocessor, the handheld calculator, the personal computer, the video game, the compact disc, GPS, satellite TV, fax machines, digital cameras, solid-state storage, HDTV, and the internet.

CEG broke off from EIA in 1995 to become the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA), which was redubbed the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in 1999, and, finally, the Consumer Technology Association – CTA – in November 2015.

At CES, attendees will get a lot more granularity of not only the last century of the consumer technology business but hints of CTA’s next century as well.

See also: CTA Joins, Adds Tech Pillar To UN’s ‘Human Security For All’ Campaign