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THE HISTORY OF EXHIBITION


With 8,015 exhibitors (3,000 from abroad) and a net display area of more than 422,000 square meters, CeBIT 2001 will assert its singular role among the world's IT and telecom trade fairs. In just one and a half decades, CeBIT has developed from being part of the HANNOVER FAIR into the world's leading showplace for information technology, telecommunications and office automation.
 
For the past 15 years thousands of suppliers and users from all over the world have come together every year in the early spring at CeBIT Hannover. The CeBIT premiere on 12 March 1986 was the outcome of a long and complicated decision-making process. The computer industry had become a key feature of the HANNOVER FAIR and had contributed to its unique status as the world's biggest trade show for capital goods. By the late 1950s the "office equipment industry" (as it was then called) already ranked as the third largest exhibitor group at the Hannover Fair. The Fair reflected the "electronics boom" in the 1960s and provided the launching pad for numerous technological highlights. In 1965, for example, Heinz Nixdorf (who was later to become one of Germany's best known entrepreneurs) presented his legendary 820 universal computer.
 
In 1970 Deutsche Messe AG underscored the importance of office equipment at the Hannover Fair when it opened the new Hall 1 adjacent to the northern entrance of the exhibition site. This massive building complex consisted of three levels: an underground garage with parking space for 2,000 exhibitors; a ground-floor exhibition hall covering a total area of 70,300 square meters; and a roof level with 750 prefabricated cabins. In 1984 Hall 1 found its way into the Guinness Book of Records as the "world's largest single-story exhibition hall".
 
The inauguration of the new hall coincided with the search for a new name for this exhibit category. One suggestion was CeBOT - the German acronym for Center for Office and Organization Technology. However, the Exhibitors' Advisory Committee decided in favor of CeBIT - Center for Office and Information Technology, not least because the syllable BIT (the smallest unit of information handled by a computer) alluded to the growing importance of electronic data processing in the Seventies, and even more so in the Eighties, when PC manufacturers flocked to the HANNOVER FAIR. Nevertheless, in 1970 no one could have foreseen the extent to which the data processing market would divide into more and more segments and grow at a breathtaking rate. The gigantic capacities in Hall 1 were soon exhausted. At the end of the 1970s Deutsche Messe AG decided to allocate Halls 2 and 18 to CeBIT. At the beginning of the 1980s CeBIT extended into Hall 3. However, this was just a drop in the ocean. More and more data processing and software companies, not to mention the growing group of PC manufacturers, wanted to use CeBIT as a presentation platform. The original Center for Office and Information Technology had now become the World Center for Office, Information and Communications Technology. Nevertheless, numerous potential exhibitors were still excluded from CeBIT.
 
In November 1984 Deutsche Messe AG finally announced that, with effect from 1986, the HANNOVER FAIR CeBIT would take place as a separate event in March, followed one month later by the HANNOVER FAIR Industry. On 12 March 1986, when 2,142 exhibitors presented their products, systems and services on a net display area in excess of 200,000 square meters.
 
With 334,400 visitors the first independent CeBIT got off to a very good start. CeBIT soon carved out a stronger and stronger position in the trade fair market, due in no small part to continuous refinements to the concept by Deutsche Messe AG. The major show categories became ever more clearly defined, and exhibitors took advantage of the increased space capacity to present their products in multiple show sectors. CeBIT rapidly developed into the largest and most important IT event of the year. The number of exhibitors and visitors increased continuously - despite freak weather conditions on two occasions. Two days before CeBIT '87 opened its gates, a sudden blizzard swept over the city of Hannover, leaving one meter of snow in its wake. The show nonetheless got off to a punctual start thanks to the tireless efforts of countless helpers. SnowBIT, as the fair came to be called, attracted 406,474 visitors. The Hannover Exhibition Center (now completely at the disposal of CeBIT) was becoming more and more cramped, even though Deutsche Messe AG had begun to replace some old exhibition halls with new buildings. The waiting list of companies wanting to take part in CeBIT began to lengthen again. The halls were full to overflowing. In-depth discussions between industry professionals were virtually impossible. With 6,111 exhibitors and 755,326 visitors (including 100,000 from abroad) CeBIT '95 entered the record books as a "mega event". In view of its growing appeal to private visitors, however, CeBIT ran the risk of losing its professional character. By 1995 the number of private visitors had risen to 218,000 - 29 percent of the total attendance.
 
If CeBIT was to retain its business character it would have to be "reprofessionalized". As a first move, admission prices were raised significantly. Secondly, the duration of CeBIT was reduced to seven days in line with exhibitor wishes. In addition, Deutsche Messe AG announced the creation of a new show targeted at distributors, SOHO (small office, home office) customers and private users of PCs, multimedia and the Internet. This offshoot was to be called CeBIT HOME, the World of Home and Consumer Electronics.
 
CeBIT has become the unchallenged international showcase for information and telecommunications technology. Among its "competitors" CeBIT is the only trade fair that has recorded sustained growth. CeBIT 2001 not only sets a new record of 8,015 exhibiting companies, but also has the highest number of foreign firms in attendance (3,034 from 60 nations) of any trade show in the world. In fact, CeBIT is not only the largest trade fair for the IT industry, but also the largest trade show of any kind, anywhere in the world.
 
We wish you to have a great time enjoying your stay at the fair! The Penki Kontinentai will be awaiting for you at the HALL 6, Stand H54.