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Were we INSANE in 1984?

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You have to realize how cheap manufacturing electronics has become since then. We've moved it to countries with very cheap labor and the process is much cheaper all around.

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Oh yeah, I understand all that, but the thought of spending nearly $5,000 on a 64K box with black and white screen with under 1 meg of storage space... and with less than two dozen real cool programs is mind boggling.

 

Back then, computers became obsolete pretty fast too. Now days if you buy a top of the line box, you should be able to get 5-7 useful years out of it.

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These were used in businesses- they weren't home computers. Presumably the business made money through increasing efficiency of their bookkeeper, secretaries. We take it for granted today. Every working person is now nearly a full-time computer operator.

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BITD I sold quite a few Model III's for $1,995 to private parties. I bought mine in Canada for a lot less taking advantage of the currency exchange rate and employee discount.

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My Model III started life off as a 16K cassette based system @ $1,000 and $60 for the tape deck. I had a really cool uncle who decided it wasn't really for him and he gave it to me after I attended and passed the Level I and Level II programming classes that Radio Shack offered in their computer centers (he paid for those classes too). I was around 12 at the time.

After seeing War Games, I had to get that thing online. RS232 card, Modem and Vidtex software was my first upgrade. Then followed countless other upgrades, many that went beyond factory, such as genuine double sided Tandon drives instead of Radio Shack's single sided Texas Peripherals.

I've added things up going by the 1981 prices and it would be over $10,400 in today's money, and that's NOT including things that didn't exist back in the 80s like FreHD or any software.

 

btw, the I, III and 4 in base form were aimed more towards hobbyist use. The 2, 12, 16 and 6000 were the business machines and all decked out would easily be in the $50K range in today's money.

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Have our salaries been in lock step with inflation?

Salaries are not directly related to inflation. They are more related to supply and demand of the work and the workers' skills.

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Have our salaries been in lock step with inflation?

 

People always claim they haven't. But on the other hand, it seems that everyone lives in much bigger houses, drives bigger cars, eats in higher quality restaurants than we used to, shops at upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods.

 

Even my technically 'poor' friends live in bigger places and have nicer cars than I did growing up

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Have our salaries been in lock step with inflation?

 

Versus what?

A new $300 laptop will fulfill all the computing needs of the average person today.

That $300 would be $106.00 in 1981. $106 would have paid for an RS232 card. Want to make use of it? Shell out another $200 for a 300 baud acoustic coupler. Hell, that $106 wouldn't come close to paying for a 16K upgrade. My unlimited high speed fiber optic internet is $40 bucks a month. Compuserve was $12 an hour at 300 baud.

 

Minimum wage was $3.35 an hour in 1981. What is it now, $9.25? Gas, food and utilities are cheaper by today's standards. Milk was $1.69 a gallon...that's what I paid yesterday! Car prices have stayed consistent and now you get something that lasts 3X longer and is 100X safer.

When comparing anything electronic, it's next to free these days compared to back then.

Those good old days when a 19" color TV cost $600...or nearly $1,700 in today's money. ;-)

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Versus what?

A new $300 laptop will fulfill all the computing needs of the average person today.

That $300 would be $106.00 in 1981. $106 would have paid for an RS232 card. Want to make use of it? Shell out another $200 for a 300 baud acoustic coupler. Hell, that $106 wouldn't come close to paying for a 16K upgrade. My unlimited high speed fiber optic internet is $40 bucks a month. Compuserve was $12 an hour at 300 baud.

 

Minimum wage was $3.35 an hour in 1981. What is it now, $9.25? Gas, food and utilities are cheaper by today's standards. Milk was $1.69 a gallon...that's what I paid yesterday! Car prices have stayed consistent and now you get something that lasts 3X longer and is 100X safer.

When comparing anything electronic, it's next to free these days compared to back then.

Those good old days when a 19" color TV cost $600...or nearly $1,700 in today's money. ;-)

I agree with all of that except about cars lasting longer... sure they are much safer now but cars in the past were made to last much longer... heck in my area you still see a lot of 80s and 90s cars on the road. It seems now cars are made to be thrown away every few years now like smartphones... or at least marketed like them...

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I agree with all of that except about cars lasting longer... sure they are much safer now but cars in the past were made to last much longer... heck in my area you still see a lot of 80s and 90s cars on the road. It seems now cars are made to be thrown away every few years now like smartphones... or at least marketed like them...

 

I don't have fond memories of the quality of 80s cars. Seemed like they were in the shop constantly for one thing or another. Today's cars do seem more reliable, but like anything else I've sure this varies by make and model.

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Cars from the 80s on back were considered used up at 100K miles and came with 1 year 12K mile warranties. Drive one in a rust belt region and rust holes from the inside out was likely to occur within one year. There's a reason most don't have a 6th digit on the odometer. 100K is now considered low mileage and many come with 100K mile powertrain warranties and 10 year rust perforation warranties.

 

Up until the late 80s, our company fleet vehicles (mostly Ford truck F and E series) had a 5 year/100K mile life...the body and powertrains seemed to fail symbiotically. Unsafe frame rot and bodies separating from the frame were common.

Things changed dramatically in the mid 90s. 12 to 15 years with 200K+ was common. Today we get no less than 300K miles on the same series Fords and the handful of GMs in our fleet. These are contractor vehicles that go through hell and back in the midwest, not highway cruisers in a fair weather state.

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The growth of Mortgage debt, car loan debt as well as credit card debt have outpaced inflation, while salaries have been stagnant. Perhaps the high debt load and low interest rates explain why your friends have more stuff!

 

 

 

People always claim they haven't. But on the other hand, it seems that everyone lives in much bigger houses, drives bigger cars, eats in higher quality restaurants than we used to, shops at upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods.

 

Even my technically 'poor' friends live in bigger places and have nicer cars than I did growing up

Edited by polyex

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The growth of Mortgage debt, car loan debt as well as credit card debt have outpaced inflation

 

No it hasn't. What you described is stupidity and entitlement. If one can't afford a $300K house, they're free to "degrade" themselves by purchasing a $150K house or even a $50K house. If one can't afford a $50K car, they can easily purchase a new $15K car. Instead dumbasses will choose the $50K SUV with an 84 month loan (and be backwards on it in 4 years by owing more than what it's worth at that point).

 

Credit card debt? Can't afford the latest Xbox? No problem! Put it on the credit card! Exact same assholes that NEED a $300 a month cable plan and a deluxe cell phone plan to go along with the latest Android phone they waited in line at night to purchase. Wahhh! I have $30K in credit card debt! Life isn't fair!! Ooooh...I wonder if I have enough space on the credit card to buy booze when I go out clubbing tonight?

 

If you don't have the skill set to earn enough money to live in a certain area, such as San Diego, then you need to move out and find an area with a far lower cost of living. USA is a very big place.

 

That's all just the tip of the iceberg. Minimum wage jobs are low skill, they used to be for high school/college age kids or supplemental income for a married couple. You don't deserve a living wage for those types of jobs; if that's all you can do, mistakes were made in your life...our country provides countless opportunities to improve yourself starting at the high school level. Improve your situation or live with it.

Partied too much and now tied down with kids and/or child support? Has nothing to do with inflation...you made your bed, now lie in it.

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Heck, even a gallon of gas, one thing we all gripe about wearing rose colored nostalgic glasses has not really changed all that much. In my area, even after the Memorial Day price hike is $3.60 a gallon.

 

For the record, ( I looked it up ), a minimum wage job in Washington state is $12.00 per hour.

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No most were not that crazy, that’s why we purchased Atari and Commodore computers! Only rich people bought Apple and IBM PC’s with inferior capabilities. ;). Now that is insanity! Haha

Edited by tjlazer
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No most were not that crazy, that’s why we purchased Atari and Commodore computers! Only rich people bought Apple and IBM PC’s with inferior capabilities. ;). Now that is insanity! Haha

 

Agreed... PC's were for rich business people and Apples were bought up by schools and rich parents who want their kids to be super smart to get in the "best schools".

 

The home computers were more for the rest of us...

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How much cheaper was Atari? The 400 was $550 with 8K, a horrible membrane keyboard and no built in BASIC. Buy a tape deck, BASIC cartridge and a monochrome monitor and now what's the cost?

 

Atari 800 was a phenomenal computer on par with the Apple II series. It also started off at $1,000 which is right up there with Apple pricing...especially when you factor in some of the educational discounts Apple offered. Want to add RAM, disk drives, color monitor and modem to either of them and you're probably at $3,000.

 

The Commodore 64 was released many years later with a $600 price tag...Atari and Apple also came down in price by that time.

 

MSDOS based PCs has nothing to do with the generation above. IBM and clones didn't start to take on the home market until after the mid 80s. And something like a $600 Tandy 1000EX (with a floppy drive and 256K!) made the previous generation of computers look like toys.

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Um they were discounted heavily after a year or two so the Commodore 64 was down to $150 in 1984. And the Atari 800XL was like $100 with the 130XE trailing in at the $150 in 1985-86. That so pretty damn cheap.

Edited by tjlazer
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Um they were discounted heavily after a year or two so the Commodore 64 was down to $150 in 1984. And the Atari 800XL was like $100 with the 130XE trailing in at the $150 in 1985-86. That so pretty damn cheap.

 

I think I mentioned prices coming down and I was giving specific pricing in specific years. I also don't see any catalog listings showing the C64 at $150 until the end of 1985. Add in the painfully slow/most inferior disk drive ever made, and the price is still near $400.

 

8 bit systems bought during their prime cost a fortune. Of course by 1986 they were all dirt cheap because it was old technology. The Amiga, ST, Apple IIGS and all the PC clones made them look like toys and you didn't have to be rich to afford them. In 1985 you could buy an ST that included a disk drive and monitor for $200 less than what a bare Atari 800 originally cost. I owned a Tandy 1000EX with 640K, CM4 color monitor (bought on clearance) and a 2nd external 3.5" drive and had about $950 invested.

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No most were not that crazy, that’s why we purchased Atari and Commodore computers! Only rich people bought Apple and IBM PC’s with inferior capabilities. ;). Now that is insanity! Haha

 

 

Inferior.. my ass. Apple is still around to the tune of a trillion dollars. And IBM PC has been adopted as the worldwide standard in computing.

 

Where's Atari and Commodore?

 

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BTW I wanted to get a TRS-80 Model I/III at one time, before the Apple II IIRC. And my parents wouldn't let me, even if I earned the money myself and used some savings and got a loan from them and promised to work even more summer jobs next year. I could be running and climbing up the walls and they still said no. They said I'd be bored because the games sucked and were not in color. Having color capability was the single deciding factor determining which micro I got into. I had so much wanted a Model III because it looked like control console from NASA and would fit into my Lunar Lander "plans".

 

But when I settled down and accepted defeat I was able to get an Apple II. New evidence uncovered this last year suggests they helped arrange some of my summer jobs and that allowed me to cover most all cost of the console. All about the same time I saw this little ad for the Apple II mainboard kit. It had hundreds of chips and therefore had to be a really smart computer.

 

Later on I would get an MX-80 printer and by printing stuff for the neighbors and my fellow classmates I subsidized some of the cost of that ungodly expensive ($300 or $400) printer.

 

In retrospect it was the right choice. And the Apple II is definitely easier to maintain and upgrade.

 

Were we nuts paying that kind of money? I don't think so. There were many concepts I learned from the Apple II documentation that I have carried and used throughout the years. It was like a school outside of school. At 3PM when the dismissal bell rang, my classes (at home & self directed) were just getting started!

Edited by Keatah

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How much cheaper was Atari? The 400 was $550 with 8K, a horrible membrane keyboard and no built in BASIC. Buy a tape deck, BASIC cartridge and a monochrome monitor and now what's the cost?

 

Atari 800 was a phenomenal computer on par with the Apple II series. It also started off at $1,000 which is right up there with Apple pricing...especially when you factor in some of the educational discounts Apple offered. Want to add RAM, disk drives, color monitor and modem to either of them and you're probably at $3,000.

 

The Commodore 64 was released many years later with a $600 price tag...Atari and Apple also came down in price by that time.

 

MSDOS based PCs has nothing to do with the generation above. IBM and clones didn't start to take on the home market until after the mid 80s. And something like a $600 Tandy 1000EX (with a floppy drive and 256K!) made the previous generation of computers look like toys.

 

I don't think we paid more than $200 for a brand-new Atari 800XL in 1984(ish). That was a result of the Commodore price wars.

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No most were not that crazy, that’s why we purchased Atari and Commodore computers! Only rich people bought Apple and IBM PC’s with inferior capabilities. ;). Now that is insanity! Haha

 

 

 

Agreed... PC's were for rich business people and Apples were bought up by schools and rich parents who want their kids to be super smart to get in the "best schools".

 

The home computers were more for the rest of us...

 

So true. The home computers got many of us into computing.. our parents would have balked at the price tag on the Apple/IBM PC. And in many ways our little "toy computers" ran circles around the "professional" ones of the same time period. I do have to say that the build and material quality of those IBM PC / Apple II systems do blow away the Atari/Commodore. They were built like tanks back then, and that kind of quality doesn't come cheap.

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