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COMDEX (an abbreviation of Computer Dealers' Exhibition) was a computer expo held at various locations in the Las Vegas Valley, each November from 1979 to 2003. It was one of the largest computer trade shows in the world, usually second only to the German CeBIT, and by many accounts one of the largest trade shows in any industry sector. The first COMDEX was held in 1979 at the MGM Grand (now Bally's), with 167 exhibitors and 3904 attendees. In 1981, the first COMDEX/Spring was held in New York City.
Originally open only to those directly involved in the computer industry, COMDEX was the one show where all levels of manufacturers and developers of computers, peripherals, software, components and accessories came in direct contact with retailers, consultants and their competitors.
Colloquially known as "Geek Week", COMDEX evolved into a major technical convention, with the industry making major product announcements and releases there. Numerous small companies from around the world rose to prominence following appearance at COMDEX, and industry leaders sought opportunities to make keynote addresses. Most discussed the computer industry, history, trends and future potential. Commercial acceptance of the Linux family of operating systems got a major boost following a 1999 appearance by its creator, Linus Torvalds.
In the late 1980s, COMDEX was opened to the public, causing an explosion in attendance, but also a dilution of COMDEX's impact on the industry and a loss of the focus which had made the show a "must-attend" event. Retailers and consultants complained that "leading edge" customers, upon whom they relied for early adoption of new technology, were buying products at "show specials" and then expecting the dealers to support those products.
At the same time, costs of attendance ballooned with the number of attendees. Hotels as far away as Primm, 45 miles (72 km) towards the California state line, were packed even when charging several times their regular rates. However Reservations at "strip hotels" were often available on the day of the start of the show, and at reasonable (for Las Vegas) prices.
After the Spring 1981 show in New York City and 1982 in Atlantic City, COMDEX began regular spring shows in Atlanta, Georgia from 1983 through 1988. Then alternated sites between Atlanta and Chicago. The final Atlanta Spring COMDEX was held in 1997; the last Spring COMDEX was held in Chicago in April 2003.
Following COMDEX Fall 1999 (in Las Vegas), organizers made major changes to their criteria for admission of media, rejecting nearly all but those who were on editorial assignment from a handful of "acknowledged" trade papers. Though it offered regular "public" attendance, this left hundreds of regular, long-standing press attendees from magazines and newspapers around the world with bad feelings toward the show. As press credentials were necessary to gain the level of access necessary to make the expensive trip worthwhile, most refused to go and many told vendors that they would disregard product announcements made at or in relation to COMDEX.
When other computer hardware exhibitions such as CeBIT in Germany and COMPUTEX in Taiwan continued to expand, the runaway costs and decline in quality of COMDEX had negative impacts. In addition, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the US had gained importance, and many exhibitors determined that CES was the more cost-effective show. In 2000, major companies such as IBM, Apple, and Compaq (now merged with Hewlett-Packard) decided to discontinue their involvement with COMDEX to allocate resources more efficiently. To reduce costs, many would-be exhibitors stopped renting out or scaled back official COMDEX booths on the convention center floors, and set up invitation-only suites in various Las Vegas hotels. This also allowed exhibitors to concentrate their efforts on industry attendees rather than the general public.
COMDEX/Fall 2001 organizers at Los Angeles-based Key3Media Group Inc. said they expected attendance to fall from the previous year's 200,000 to 150,000. They also expected the number of exhibitors to decline from 2,350 to 2,000 and the square footage of exhibitor space to slide from just over 1 million to 750,000.
In June 2004, COMDEX cancelled the 2004 exhibition in Las Vegas.
COMDEX was started by The Interface Group, whose organizers included Sheldon Adelson and Richard Katzeff, who later sold it to Japanese technology conglomerate Softbank Corp. in 1995. Softbank sold the show to Key3Media, a spin-off of Ziff Davis, in 2001. Key3Media was dropped from the NYSE board in July 2002, when its shares dropped to pennies. It went into chapter 11 in February 2003. It resurfaced as Medialive International with a cash infusion from Thomas Weisel Capital Partners, which had previously invested in the company. In November 2006, Forbes Magazine reported that United Business Media plc had purchased the events assets of MediaLive International Inc.
Recent Past & Present
A COMDEX event was originally designed to exist only on the internet without a physical meeting location, which was announced to commence during November 16–17, 2010. The COMDEX website (www.comdex.com) was operated by TechWeb, a United Business Media company.
Everything Channel and sister company UBM studios (both United Business Media Companies) partnered to deliver COMDEXvirtual (www.comdexvirtual.com) to the global IT channel community in November 2010. Nearly 5,000 attended the event over the course of the two days, making COMDEXvirtual the largest independent virtual tradeshow in the IT industry. The agenda featured more than 100 speakers and nearly 50 sessions on topics ranging from cloud to mobility and virtualization, to address the event's theme—New Business Solutions: Embracing Disruptive Technologies & Changing Delivery Models. In addition to educational sessions, there was also an Expo Hall with nearly 30 exhibitors including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Symantec, Panasonic, and D&H. COMDEXvirtual (www.comdexvirtual.com) 2010 was available on-demand through May 17, 2011. The event was due return on November 15 & 16, 2011.
- The former COMDEX website link (www.comdex.com) currently redirects to the presently operating INTEROP (www.interop.com).
Interop is an annual trade fair for information technology organised by UBM TechWeb. It takes place at four different locations at various times of the year: Mumbai (India), New York (NY, USA), Tokyo(Japan), and Las Vegas (NV, USA). 2011 marked Interop's 25th anniversary and throughout that time, Interop has promoted interoperability and openness, beginning with IP networks and continuing in today's emerging cloud computing era. For every US event, Interop volunteers build a network (called the InteropNet) using tools from various vendors to demonstrate the latest technologies and interoperability. 
- http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/67462/comdex_cancels_november_2004_tech_convention/index.html Comdex Cancels November 2004 Tech Convention
- http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/ubm/42706/ Introducing the New COMDEX, the Next Generation in Virtual Events