What would they cost today? 10 classic pieces of tech history at today’s prices

How about paying almost $4,000 for a basic PC? Or $7,600 for a printer? That’s how much you would pay for some classic tech items if they were sold today with prices adjusted for inflation.

After having looked at classic hardware before here at Royal Pingdom, we now thought it would be interesting to dip into the pool of great gadgets again, this time focusing on prices.

So with the help of the Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, we’ve brought prices of a few classic tech items into the current year.

As you will see, we should be very grateful for what we pay for most tech today.


Like it or not, the IBM PC, introduced in 1981, has changed all our lives.

Price in 1981: $1,565
Price now adjusted for inflation: $3,898

Apple iPod

Apple’s first iPod may only have had 5GB storage space and a FireWire connection, but it revolutionized an entire industry.

Price in 2001: $399
Price now adjusted for inflation: $510

JVC HR-3300

JVC’s HR-3300 (in Japanese) was the first VCR to use VHS tape, which was quite a feat when it went on sale in 1976.

Price in 1976: $1,400
Price now adjusted for inflation: $5,571

HP 12c

The HP 12c calculator was introduced in 1981 and you can still buy it today for $70.

Price in 1981: $150
Price now adjusted for inflation: $374

Atari 2600

How many missed hours of sleep the Atari 2600 has been responsible for over the years we’ll never know. But the simple fact is, it was a dream come true for countless of geeks around the world.

Price in 1977: $199
Price now adjusted for inflation: $744

Canon A-1 SLR

The Canon A-1 was a landmark in photography history and one of the most successful SLR cameras ever.

Price in 1978: $625 (with 50mm f1.4 lens)
Price now adjusted for inflation: $2,070

Motorola DynaTAC 8000X

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the first commercial handheld mobile phone. In the picture, the DynaTAC is seen together with Dr. Martin Cooper, the former general manager for the systems division at Motorola.

Price in 1983: $3,995
Price now adjusted for inflation: $9,082

Apple II

The Apple II made Apple its first fortune, and was in production between 1977-1993.

Price in 1977: $1,298
Price now adjusted for inflation: $4,816

HP LaserJet

The first LaserJet from HP was also the first laser printer for personal computers.

Price in 1984: $3,495
Price now adjusted for inflation: $7,616

Polaroid Swinger

Swinger was Polaroid’s first mass market instant camera.

Price in 1965: $19.95
Price now adjusted for inflation:$143.40

Be glad we don’t pay these prices

Clearly everything is just ridiculously expensive in today’s prices, which is no surprise. Since the HP12c is still sold, it’s especially interesting to compare its current price of $70, which is less than half of when it originally sold, to the original price adjusted for inflation.

The conclusion can only be, as we said in the beginning, that we should be very grateful for what we pay for most tech today. For example, who would pay $9,000 for a mobile phone?

Oops, it appears at least some people would.

All pictures appear courtesy of Wikipedia, except the picture of the HP LaserJet, which appears courtesy of HP.


  1. Lol this is dumb. Most of these adjusted for inflation prices (with the exception of the phone) are pretty similar to current prices of their modern counterparts. Compare the atari with the release price of ps3, the Apple II with modern iMacs, the two cameras with modern cameras at opposite ends of the quality spectrum. I think its interesting that relative prices for top-of-the-line tech doesn’t change – we’ll always pay ~$700 (2011 dollars) for the latest console.

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