Jack Wayman, founder of CES trade show, dies at 92

The former RCA salesman built CES into an industry colossus

CES founder Jack Wayman, a veteran of the consumer electronics industry in the U.S., has died at age 92, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced on Tuesday.

Wayman passed away on Saturday of natural causes, CEA said.

"The consumer electronics industry has lost a legend and, more personally, I have lost a great friend and mentor," CEA CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement.

A World War II veteran, Wayman was part of the Office of Strategic Services, a CIA forerunner, and interrogated German soldiers at the end of the war, according to a 2012 article by CEA.

After the war, he worked as a sales manager for RCA, and then the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), promoting color TV and the VCR when the introduction of the latter technology sparked legal disputes over copyright infringement. He also helped establish electronics industries in Taiwan.

To gadget lovers, however, Wayman was best known for presiding over the inaugural CES in 1967 and later becoming its patriarch.

The first trade show had only 100 exhibitors and 17,000 attendees. From early products such as radios, TVs and cassette tapes, CES grew dramatically over the following decades, and the latest CES in January 2014 had over 3,600 exhibitors and 160,000 attendees.

In the late 1980s, Wayman became a spokesman for the industry, doing countless appearances and interviews, and later served as a judge for the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 2000.

"Jack's contributions to our association and our industry are numerous and momentous," Shapiro said. "We stand on his shoulders."

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