Photos: IFA through the years, a gadget evolution

Historic photos from the German electronics show take us on a tour of tech trends, including the first consumer VHS camera, early brick-sized cell phones, old-school video games, and even a few kitschy Euro booth babes.

Michelle Meyers
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Booth babes 1.0

IFA, the annual gadget gala going on this week in Berlin, is the place for the world's consumer electronics companies to showcase their latest gizmos.

These historic photos, however, are a nostalgic reminder of how quickly future tech becomes obsolete--if not retro. Even the so-called booth babes have evolved (and yet also stayed the same, thanks in part to the return of 1980s fashions.)

IFA-Berlin dates back to 1926, originally organized as a radio exposition and then becoming a tool of the extreme right during World War II.

But this retrospective begins in the 1970s, when the show returned to Berlin and became an international affair, rather than a strictly German one. That was also around the time color TVs started to become more prevalent.

 Here's a photo welcoming attendees to IFA-Berlin in 1973. Note the show logo (left), which is still used today.
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Show floor

On this very IFA show floor in 1973, some of the technologies introduced, according to IFA, were quadrophony, infrared headphones, and the first dummy-head stereophonic broadcast.
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Dummy-head sterophonics

Two years later, in 1975, dummy-head stereophonics devices are still on attendees' minds (and on their heads, as shown here).

Also big that year, according to IFA, was a "traffic news detector system."
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Video text

By 1977, video text was one of the technologies creating show-floor buzz.
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First VHS videorecorder

IFA 1983 saw the introduction of the first consumer VHS video camera, presented here by Telefunken CEO Josef A. Stoffels (and a woman sporting a tied blouse and beads circa sometime in the early 1980s).

Other innovations that year, according to IFA, were TV sets with digital signal processing and videoconferencing.
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Cassette testing

Remember when the secret to a good mixed tape was a quality cassette? Here, in 1983, attendees test out the latest cassette tech.
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History does, in fact, repeat itself. Here's a 3D TV experiment set up at the Philips Pavilion at IFA 1983.

Flash forward to IFA 2009, and Philips is still talking 3D prototypes, albeit with a note of caution, as manufacturers insist 3D is (still) the next big thing.
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Pocket TV

One of the novelties at IFA 1985 was this pocket TV made by Casio.

Attendees that year also got demos of some of the first HDTVs.

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Nokia GSM phone

In 1993, as the show's focus turned more to cell phones and digital media, Nokia presented one of its first GSM mobile phones, the Nokia 1011.

And if you're wondering what Robert Redford did that year to make the cover of that German magazine, IMDB tells us he starred in "Indecent Proposal," which won a Goldene Leinwand (Golden Screen) award in Germany.

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IFA promo 1995

By 1995, key technologies showcased were laptops and cell phones, as is indicated by this show promo photo.
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Acer racer

A boy demos an Acer racing game at IFA 1995, just as video gaming was becoming a major player in the consumer electronics market.
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By 1997, gamers were out in full force.

Also big that year were DVD players, and digital cameras and camcorders.
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By 1999, e-mail was becoming a part of everyday life, as were Webcams.

Also big that year were MP3 players and smartphones.
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Flat screen

By IFA 2001, flat-screen TVs were impressing attendees.
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MP3 gadgets

And digital music technologies just kept getting more sophisticated. Here, at IFA 2001, a red head (an IFA favorite, as you can see here with Miss IFA) displays headphones with a built-in MP3 player.

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