Previously expensive high tech that's cheap now

Back in 1982 or so a friend added 256K of ram to his TRS-80 for around $200. Last month I bought 512M for about $100.

When I was born, my father bought my mother something new to make life easier… a microwave. It was a damn good one, as we’re still using it now… point is, it cost £400, compared to… what? £70 today?


When I was in school, the physics teacher really really wanted to get a laser for optics demonstrations, but the school couldn’t afford it, now you can get them on a keychain for a couple of quid (not the same technology, admittedly)

But just look at the TV$600 pre WWII dollars could have bought you.

Yeah, and you had to buy (or rent!!!) them from the phone company (what a racket, eh?) Now you can get a phone dang near anyplace, and have a billion styles to choose from.

Jeez, they have already dropped a bunch. At work here I have two DVD-R drives side by side. One was bought in '02 for $600 CDN, and the other was bought in '99 for $7000 CDN. In '99 the DVD-R blanks cost us 53 dollars each.

I don’t believe you even can buy less than a meg of RAM anymore, at least not for most home systems. You have to either buy it used directly, or get it from scavenging an obsolete computer.

Of course, there’s really no need for anyone to keep producing kilobyte RAM cards when megabyte and gigabyte cards are reasonably cheap and plentiful. But still, it’s an example of the cost of something going from somewhat expensive to cheap to dirt cheap and then unavailable, all within a few cranks of the technological cycle.

Well, about eight years ago I bought a 16MB RAM chip for $65.00. Earlier this week I was looking for a RAM upgrade. The smallest chip they carried was 128MB, and it cost $25.00. The price per meg has dropped by a factor of twenty.

DAT was never popular in the home market, because CDs offer the same (or similar) fidelity and are much cheaper and more sturdy. However, DAT decks are still used by a lot of people (including a good friend of mine) for semi-professional (and maybe professional) recording studios.

While throwing some old stuff I had in storage, I found a 1995 PC Magazine that featured a story about CD recorders. Price? $2500!! 74-min blanks were $10-12 EACH.

About 9 years ago, color laser printers were in the $50-60K price range.

Back when I had my 486SX, I wanted to upgrade my RAM from 4MB to 8MB so Doom 2 wouldn’t turn to a slideshow on the last level. After finding out that 4MB stick would cost me $130, I decided not to.

I bought a DVD player at Wal-Mart for $78 a few months ago. Didn’t they cost $200-$300 just 4-5 years ago?

My first digital, LCD watch (from Intel) was $250. Now better ones are promotional giveaways. (and the display and battery last longer!)

Another favorite of mine is the cost of hard drive space.

I just saw a b&w TV at Target two weeks ago with a bigger picture than that, portable (I mean really portable, it was less than 6 lbs). Cost = $35

I remember when VHS blank tapes (blank, mind you) were $15. I think they started out at $20+ but that was sorta before my time. It was a Big Deal to find VHS for under $10—I used to really hunt around for a deal that cheap. When they hit $5 I couldn’t believe it.

Now they are kinda like Kleenex.

Cripes, I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned CD-RW drives. I remember back in the day when they were still called “CD Burners” and ran for thousands of dollars. I recall a rich buddy of mine back in High School bragging about having a CD Burner (CD-RW still hadn’t become common), running at 2x.

Nowadays, stores will practically pay you to take their CD-RW drives. You can easily get a 48x24x48x for less than $50. This isn’t much more expensive than your regular CD-ROM or even DVD-ROM drives.

CD-ROM drives. You don’t even really think about it anymore, because they’ve been standard equipment for at least the last six years or so. However, they are now beginning to be superceded by the DVD-ROM drive, which I expect will be standard in no more than two years. DVDs replacing CDs will take longer. In any case, a decent CD-ROM drive can be had for about $15. By decent, I mean around 50X. That’s a big change from how much a double speed external CD-ROM drive went for in 1994.

McDuff, I was an exchange student at the University of Salford once upon a time!

I bought my first CD burner in February, 1999 - just four years ago. It was a SCSI drive, 4x burning - and the guys at the store suggested that any faster than 4x would result in lots of trashed CDs. It cost $350.

And I remember when my ex-boyfriend was so happy that he found 4MB of RAM at Wal-Mart for less than $200. For his 486, doncha know. Of course, MY 486SX33 - an AST, with four megs of RAM, a 211 MB HD, 2400 baud modem, and no CD-ROM drive was $2200, including a 14-inch VGA monitor and monochrome bubble-jet printer.

Today, I came THIS close to buying a computer with a 2.0 MHz P4, 512MB RAM, 80GB HD, network card, 56 v.90 modem (which I won’t use), DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives for $750. Not only has the technology improved, the prices have dropped significantly.

To reverse the question, can anyone think of any previously high tech item that hasn’t dropped dramatically in price?

Satellite TV programming

probably cable tv

I bought a cable modem for $60 a year ago i thought it was a great deal, all the 3com modems went for $90 back then. Now they are $30 on ebay.
Heres another hijack (perhaps we can have several topics in the same thread). aside from tech devices, what other items depreciate in value so quickly? are consumer electronics the only devices that are priced at 20% for a new model that is better than a new model from 10 years ago?

Too bad furniture doesn’t depreciate in value so quickly.