This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) runs January 6-9, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Lois Whitman will be there. Just as she has for every CES show since the very first one in 1967 in New York City!
The show stayed there through 1970, jumped to Chicago from 1971 to 1977, and moved to Las Vegas in 1978. "Winter" CES pops up every January, but from 1978 through 1995 a "Summer" CES was also held in Chicago every year. Whitman has been to all of them! Talking with Lois, you have no doubt she loves her job and the people in the consumer electronics business.
Her career started in 1966 with Home Furnishings Daily magazine, even before that first CES in 1967. Tech at the time consisted mostly of clock and portable radios, console audio systems built into furniture, and TVs. It was an all-analog, pre-home computer world, when a lot of home audio and TVs were still being made in the US. A few years later, the big Japanese companies started to dominate the home audio sector. Whitman recalls the first few shows were so small you could see the whole thing in a few hours.
By the time VCRs appeared Whitman was out of journalism, and she had started a public relations firm, HWH, in 1978. JVC was one of her accounts, and the brand was championing the VHS video tape format that was slugging it out with Sony's Betamax. That "format war" stretched out over the 1970s and 1980s, even as VHS sales far outstripped Beta year after year. Every CES, there were new strategies from VHS and Betamax, and Whitman was on the winning side. The first LaserDisc optical disc video player debuted in the US in 1978, and for a short time threatened VHS and Beta's popularity, but LaserDisc never gained traction in the mass market.
When it was time to get on a plane to get to CES 1982 Whitman was eight and a half months pregnant, but that didn't slow her down -- she was on the job and walked the show! When flat-screen displays caught on in the early 2000s, she helped Samsung become a leader in that category.
Whitman clearly loves her work and is eager to see what's new at CES 2016. She currently writes the DigiDame blog and runs the HWH Public Relations agency with her husband Eliot Hess. Whitman is a business advisor to dozens of companies, a marketing consultant, speaker, writer, deal-maker and tireless networker.