July 1972 Popular Electronics
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Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Before there was the annual International Microwave Symposium (IMS) trade show, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) hosted the show, which was widely known as the MTT-S show. Before that, the event went by a variety of names, including "Intercon," (International Convention and Exposition) as reported in this 1972 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. For the first few decades since its inception in the 1950s, New York City was the venue, often in a hotel. As with tides and solar cycles, enthusiasm and attendance waned and ebbed over the years. 1972 was one of the low years. Per the story, about half the number of people were there compared to two years prior. I could not locate a chart of attendance numbers over the years, nor the numbers to generate my own chart. Such a chart would be interesting, but admittedly not of much utility without also knowing the goings-on in the RF and microwave industry during those times.
Editorial - IEEE Show in New York City
By Milton S. Snitzer, Editor
The IEEE Show was Down to Earth
Recently, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Show. The Intercon (International Convention and Exposition), as it was called this year, was only a skeleton of its former self. In the past, this show was one of the largest industrial exhibits in the world. In 1970, for example, there were around 600 exhibitors and lots more were clamoring to get in. This number dropped to about 435 last year and there was a further falling off to only about 275 exhibitors this year. The show boasted a total of 60,000 engineers going through the exhibits in the late 1960's, but this was down to about 40,000 last year, and to an expected 30,000 this year.
In previous years all four floors of New York City's Coliseum were jam packed with exhibits and people. This year considerable space was closed off on the first three floors, while the fourth floor had no commercial exhibits at all. It probably would have been possible to hold the entire convention at the Coliseum rather than to hold the technical sessions at the New York Hilton hotel.
The little giants, such as Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix, still had large exhibits, but the big giants were conspicuous by their absence. For example, among the missing were RCA, Fairchild, Texas Instruments, Sylvania and IBM. Motorola, Westinghouse, and GE, who have had large exhibits in the past, had only small booths this year.
In spite of all the apparent gloom surrounding the show and the shrinkage of exhibitors, everyone we talked to sensed the beginning of a turnaround. People were cautiously optimistic. What has happened is that the electronics industry, which had been flying high (due to government spending) and enjoying its glamorous position for many years, has finally come down to earth. People from the smaller companies, many of whom were new to the show this year, were saying that things were beginning to look up for them.
We got the feeling that the companies mean business now and fewer are out in the blue sky with their plans. There was no shortage of new products at the show however, and most of them were practical and very much applications-oriented. Perhaps what we are seeing is the emergence of a stable, more conservative industry that is reaching its maturity rather than acting the role of a young swinger, as it has in years gone by. Hobbyists and professionals alike may not find things as hectic as before, but the electronics industry is far from lying down and giving up the ghost.
Posted January 22, 2020