From Einstein to Xbox: The IFA consumer electronics exhibition turns 50

From Sept. 3-8, the IFA , one of the oldest and largest consumer electronics exhibitions on the planet, will be in full swing.

  • Widescreen TV at IFA 1989 Philips launched widescreen 16:9 television at IFA in 1989. Promoted as "a new picture format for the 90s," the system was first used in Europe on satellite broadcasts. Some analog terrestrial broadcasting followed but it wasn't until digital TV broadcasting began that the format achieved mass popularity.

  • Nokia 1011 at IFA 1993 With the popularity of cell phones growing and the launch of digital GSM service in Europe, IFA 1993 saw the heavy promotion of Nokia's 1011. The phone was the world's first mass-produced GSM handset and featured a two-line, monochrome display.

  • MiniDisc at IFA 1991 Introduced in 1991, Sony's MiniDisc was positioned as a replacement for the then ubiquitous compact cassette. It offered more than an hour of digital recording space on a 2.5-inch disc, but it failed to gain mass-market acceptance in most markets.

  • Xbox 360 at IFA 2006 Computer gaming had been a part of IFA since the early days of the technology and at the 2006 show visitors were able to get their hands on Microsoft's Xbox 360. The game console had launched earlier in the year in Germany and Microsoft was promoting the latest software titles at the show.

  • The IFA has a storied past as well as notable celebrities and some "first" technology ever seen in Europe. From Einstein to Xbox, the IFA has shown it all. Some products, like the 3DTV, were ahead of their time. Others, like the MiniDisc...well, just never got off the ground. Einstein at IFA 1930 Albert Einstein opens the 7th Great German Radio and Phonograph Show, the forerunner to today's IFA, in Berlin in 1930. The show marked the public debut of a prototype 'television receiver.' This was one year before television broadcasting officially commenced in Germany.

  • Teletext at IFA 1977 Videotext, the German name for teletext, is introduced in 1977. The service would go on to become immensely popular across Europe and provide news, weather, sports, TV guides and other information at no charge to hundreds of millions of TV viewers. At its peak almost every TV station in Europe provided a teletext service, although they are now being replaced with digital TV services.

  • VHS-C at IFA 1983 Germany's Telefunken shows off its first VHS-C camcorder at IFA 1983. VHS-C was introduced the previous year and was a more compact version of the popular VHS video cassette format. The image shows Josef A. Stoffels, then CEO of Telefunken, with a 30-minute VHS-C cassette. The camera weighed 1.9 kilograms.

  • 3DTV at IFA 1983 Consumer electronics have been making a big deal of 3DTV since at least 1983, when Philips presented this prototype at IFA. In the background can be seen a pair of Laserdisc players and a Philips P2000T home computer. The machine has a built-in cassette deck for storage and ran on a 2.5MHz Z80 processor.

  • Pocket TVs at IFA 1985 Casio used IFA 1985 to showcase its first two pocket TVs. The TV-21 (foreground) used a projection screen that made use of ambient light to help the picture be seen. The TV-1000 (rear) was Casio's first color pocket TV and boasted a 2.5-inch screen.

  • Videophone at IFA 1993 Video telephony, like 3D television, is one of those technologies that has been launched and relaunched several times. At IFA in 1993 Deutsche Telekom presented its "Xitel" analog video phone with this oversize model. The phone had a 2.8-inch display and built-in camera. A pair-set cost 1,990 German marks, which was $1,345 at the exchange rate of the time.

  • Sharp LCD TV at IFA 2003 Sharp's early start in LCD TV technology was immediately evident to visitors who stepped onto its stand at IFA 2003. The Japanese consumer electronics company had a wall of thin, flat-panel TVs that attracted much interest. This type of display was to be copied and immitated at subsequent shows and today it's almost impossible to look anywhere without seeing banks of flat-screen TVs.

  • Thin TVs at IFA 2009 Alongside 3D technology, the buzz at IFA over the last few years has been thin TVs. Once manufacturers got to the 100-plus inch screen sizes, they stopped making bigger TVs and started making them thinner. In this image from IFA 2009 a model highlights a thin LG flat-screen TV.

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