What does Einstein have to do with IFA? If you’re shrugging your shoulders, then come with us and delve into the trade show’s past. We’ve compiled some interesting facts so you can become true IFA experts and show off your knowledge whenever it comes up.
1. How it all began
The technology fair was held for the first time in 1924. But what was on show? Electrical goods that are now commonplace in every home hadn’t been invented yet. There were no TVs, no fridges, no cell phones. The highlight of the first exhibition was a vacuum tube radio. Visitors also had the chance to marvel at detectors, headphones, and the world’s first train telephone. Even in those early days, the IFA show attracted around 180,000 people to Berlin.
2. A name that changes with the times
Initially launched as the “Große Deutsche Funkausstellung” (Great German Radio Exhibition), the tech trade fair has been renamed on several occasions – often to reflect technological advances. In 1939, for example, it was called the “Große Deutsche Rundfunk- und Fernseh-Rundfunk-Ausstellung Berlin” (Great German Radio and Television Broadcasting Exhibition Berlin). The name only took on a cosmopolitan flair in the 1970s when it changed to “Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin” (International Radio Exhibition Berlin). After organizers decided to do away with the long version in 2005, the fair is now simply referred to as “IFA”, accompanied by the words “consumer electronics unlimited”.
3. What anniversary is IFA celebrating in 2019?
Although the starting shot for this technology showcase was fired back in 1924, the exhibition is “only” being held for the 59th time. This is due to a break lasting several years during and after the Second World War. In addition, IFA was held biennially from 1971 to 2005, only returning to the annual format in 2006. As a result, IFA now follows the pace of innovation in the consumer electronics industry.
4. A touring exhibition
Although IFA and its Berlin venue are usually mentioned in the same breath, the two haven’t always belonged together. From the end of the war till 1970, the IFA trade show was a sort of “traveling circus” without a fixed location. It might be news to you that the fair has previously been held in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main, and Stuttgart. The event only returned to Berlin for good in 1971. It will stay in the capital, too – at least until 2023, when the contract the IFA organizers signed with Messe Berlin comes to an end.
5. A VIP mocks his audience
Back in the day, the IFA exhibition was a sober presentation of technological gadgets, with no glitz or glamor to speak of. Yet even then, VIPs were part of the trade fair action. While stars and starlets of the film and music industry entertain audiences today, a totally different kind of celebrity graced the fair in 1930. The physicist and Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein gave the opening speech, which was broadcast on the radio. He astounded his listeners with the mocking words: “Shame on anyone who mindlessly makes use of the wonders of science and technology and doesn’t grasp any more than a cow does of the botany of the plants it complacently grazes.”
We bring a festival feel to IFA 2019 in hall 21a under the motto #TAKEPART from September 6 to 11. Find out more about it in our IFA-Special.