TechCon History: from 1978 to now
In 1978 the PBS Engineering Committee decided to hold their next meeting adjacent to the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas. In April of that year, the committee meeting was held at Vegas PBS on folding chairs in their studio, with meals served outdoors under a tent. 70 attendees wrestled with the concerns of content distribution. The broadcast engineers had the wisdom to co-locate the meeting with the NAB Show, allowing broadcast professionals to hit both events with one travel expense. The Engineering Committee evolved into ETAC (Engineering Technology Advisory Committee), and the meeting itself evolved into the PBS Technology Conference.
As the conference grew, it moved to a conference room on the UNLV campus. Eventually UNLV could spare enough space to conduct TechCon, which by the late 1990s had grown big enough to move to the much-beloved Alexis Park, an off-strip, non-casino hotel in which everyone seemed to gather in the one bar at the end of the day.
By the early 2000s, the PBS Technology Conference, aka TechCon, had grown big enough that the Alexis Park could not host a conference of its size. Additionally, there was a move to consolidate the Traffic Conference (aka "Traffic Jam" - which has its own history dating back to 1988) along with an Engineering Conference in the Fall. The first combo conference was convened in 2002 as a combined Traffic & Engineering event, with an eye towards moving both those audiences to the spring meeting in Las Vegas.
In 2004, TechCon (now combined with the Traffic Conference) moved to the MGM Grand, initiating the modern version of the event, combining engineering and traffic conferences, and adding IT sessions too. By 2006, record attendance was set in the year of the DTV transition - 695 attended that year. That record stood for many years... until 2018, when TechCon registration hit 724 on its 40th anniversary, having grown ten-fold in attendance since its inaugural year four decades before.
In the 2010s, the TechCon audience began to open further, as Digital colleagues across the many facets of public media (OTT, online, social media, marketing, etc.) began to propose and present sessions. The conference reimagined its mission as being the event for those in public media serving an audience with technology - a mission it carries with purpose to this day.