The Consumer Electronics Show drew the curtain on its winter show last week after unveiling a dazzling array of electronic gadgetry, releasing buoyant sales figures and fielding an olive branch from the movie industry.
"Exhibitors tell us this was the most crowded show they've ever seen," CES spokeswoman Cynthia Saraniti said. "They're all happy. They're all writing business. They think it's been a tremendous success."Saraniti said members of the industry see 1989 as "a very good year. The exhibitors are extremely optimistic."
The health of the industry is a reflection on the economy in general since most of those exhibiting their wares here depend on the discretionary income of consumers.
Industry officials are predicting $31.645 billion in factory sales in consumer electronics goods in 1989, up 5 percent from 1988 figures.
A record 1,430 exhibitors spent four days touting wares ranging from camcorders and computers to TVs, video games and adult flicks.
Products at the 1989 show covered 776,000 square feet of display space - an area the size of 19 football fields.
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, told the convention Sunday that the VCR industry, once viewed as a virus by the movie industry, now is seen as a tonic.
He called for "cooperative collaboration" between the movie and electronics industry, and said the two should join in the fight against film pirating.
A major focus at this year's show was home automation, which allows home electronics products and utilities to "talk" to each other. The new system has been described as a "communications pathway throughout the home."
One scenario for the new system would allow a homeowner to check electronically his or her home security system at night, locking doors, turning off lights, turning down the thermostat - all from controls in the bedroom.
"We've developed a language which allows your appliances to speak with and control one another," CES spokesman Tom Lauterback said. "Items such as cellular phones will allow you to start your appliances at any time, any place," Lauterback said.
Another highlight of this year's show was the growing home office equipment industry.
CES officials say 20 million Americans are working out of their homes, bringing a boom in a wide range of products from facsimile machines to telephones, copiers and other equipment.
Industry officials say more than 26 million telephones were sold in the United States last year.
Murata, which hopes to capture 18 percent of the growing fax market, showcased a number of machines - pushing a model selling for $899.
Ricoh featured a hand-held copier, the MC50, that scans the original and copies any point desired. A companion interface module turns the MC50 into a facsimile transceiver, with the unit acting as a scanner for the original material being transmitted or received via telephone.
Smith Corona featured a word processor with a feature known as Address Merge, which enables the user to merge a list of names and addresses with a standard letter.
Franklin Computer featured an electronic dictionary, thesaurus and phonetic spelling corrector including more than 83,000 words. Known as the Language Master 4000, the user enters a word the way it sounds. The unit then displays the definition of the word, the parts of speech, hyphenation points and inflected forms of the word. The unit also pronounces the word.