The internal revision number that CVS keeps for each file is unrelated to the version number of the software product of which the files are part. For example, you may have a project composed of three files, whose internal revision numbers on May 3, 1999, were 1.2, 1.7, and 2.48. On that day, you package up a new release of the software and release it as SlickoSoft Version 3. This is purely a marketing decision and doesn't affect the CVS revisions at all. The CVS revision numbers are invisible to your customers (unless you give them repository access); the only publicly visible number is the "3" in Version 3. You could have called it Version 1729 as far as CVS is concerned – the version number (or "release" number) has nothing to do with CVS's internal change tracking.
To avoid confusion, I'll use the word "revision" to refer exclusively to the internal revision numbers of files under CVS control. I may still call CVS a "version control system", however, because "revision control system" just sounds too awkward.