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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 23/06/04So farewell, then, Comdex. A stonking show in its day, the Computer Dealers Exposition kicked off in 1979 as a one-room affair and proceeded to track the heady rise of the industry.

Wednesday 23/06/04
So farewell, then, Comdex. A stonking show in its day, the Computer Dealers Exposition kicked off in 1979 as a one-room affair and proceeded to track the heady rise of the industry. By the time I made it over to Las Vegas for my first show in 1993, it was a monster that drained the city of hotel rooms, cabs and hookers -- they had to bus extras in from LA to cope, although I don't think that was just on my account -- but nevertheless failed to win the hearts of the hoteliers. "These computer geeks, they just don't gamble!" complained one chap with a New Jersey accent. Ah, how wrong he was: as we all found out later, the trouble with Vegas is the stakes are too low for the nerds' taste.

And now it's dead. Well, in suspended animation waiting for the global economy to pick up, but the great round of hardware and software updates that fuelled the party have by now subsided into background noise on the Web. The action's all in consumer innovation and big iron: CES copes nicely with the first, and the Internet with the second -- why go to a city in a desert when you can get all your information and hook up with your buddies online?

A shame. I have many happy memories: of chaperoning a female colleague as a Danish computer salesman tried desperately to get into her knickers by means of ever more expensive bars. Gatecrashing a party with Michael Dell (whatever happened to him, anyway?). Eating my own body weight in freshwater oysters -- every year. Being at a Microsoft-sponsored marriage with Dr Ruth and a complete cadre of Elvis impersonators. Going out to the suburbs -- OK, the ghetto -- in a beat-up station wagon to help fix a Native American reporter's broken computer. Ah, the list goes on.

There must have been some technology there too, but that seems to have slipped my mind.