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Comdex is cancelled: An era ends

Once the nation’s largest trade show, Comdex — the massive fall computer event — was canceled last week. Its owners cited the failure of the industry’s largest companies to participate.

Executives at MediaLive International, the company that owns Comdex and other trade shows, said they decided to redefine the event and are hoping that it will re-emerge after a year’s hiatus.

Created in 1979 by Sheldon Adelson, a Boston financial consultant, Comdex gained prominence in the early 1980s with the emergence of the personal computer industry. The annual show became the place to showcase new computers and software and a mandatory stopping place for industry luminaries.

Executives would flock to Las Vegas to hear a speech on the future of computing by Bill Gates or to visit a booth where Mitchell D. Kapor introduced the Lotus Development Corporation’s Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program.

Comdex reached a peak in 2000 during the Internet bubble when 211,000 people attended the show. Last year attendance fell to 45,000, and most of the world’s largest hardware and software companies decided either to abandon the event or to cut back their presence. The number of exhibitors fell from a peak of 2337 to 550.

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