There are the giants of industry and then there are the true pioneers. Jack Wayman was both of them.
Today, the International Consumer Electronics Show, popularly known as CES, is indisputably the biggest week on the consumer electronics industry calendar — an annual bacchanal of innovation, hype, wheeling-and-dealing and networking, all brought to you by the influential industry trade association and lobbying group, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
Believe it or not, though, there was a time when CES and CEA didn’t exist. Jack Wayman fixed all that way back in the 1960s. In the process, he virtually created the modern-day consumer electronics industry.
Wayman’s long, well-spent journey has come to a close. He died Saturday, August 30, of natural causes at the age of 92.
“The consumer electronics industry has lost a legend and, more personally, I have lost a great friend and mentor,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Jack’s contributions to our association and our industry are numerous and momentous. We stand on his shoulders. From leading the creation of the association that eventually became CEA to founding the International CES to leading the fight for critical legislative and public policy victories that helped drive industry growth, Jack truly was one of the fathers of the contemporary CE industry. His passion for and dedication to our industry inspired us all. We join the entire CE family in expressing our condolences to his family and friends.”
Wayman founded the EIA Consumer Products Division in 1963 on a $50,000 budget with two employees and quickly turned it into the Consumer Electronics Group (CEG), the precursor to CEA, with a $15 million budget and 50 employees. In 1967, Wayman guided the group in creating and producing the first International CES, which consisted of 100 exhibitors and 17,000 attendees. To put that in perspective, the 2014 International CES hosted more than 3,600 exhibitors and 160,000 attendees.
Wayman also achieved several victories on the legislative and public policy front for CEA.
Well into his later years, Wayman was still working on behalf of CEA, serving as a media spokesperson, as a judge for the CE Hall of Fame, as a mentor for CEA staff, and as an unofficial industry historian.
But that wasn’t all there was to Wayman’s legacy. He also was a decorated U.S. veteran who served in Europe as a combat infantry company commander during World War II, fighting at the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. Along the way, he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with Cluster and two Presidential Citations. Just last year, he was inducted by the Government of France as a chevalier for his military service.
Wayman was a born leader. Prior to his CE career, he served as president of his elementary, junior and senior high classes, and was the president of his fraternity at Davidson College, where he lettered in track and baseball and captained the college’s basketball team, which at the time was ranked in the national Top 10.
This July, CEA made a $1 million contribution to the CEA Foundation in celebration of Wayman’s half-century career. It will honor him with a special tribute service in November in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Consumer Electronics Division Awards Tribute, the CE Hall of Fame Dinner and CES Unveiled New York.
Wayman leaves behind five children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.