October 9, 2014

Things that you would have paid $1,000 a year for 30 years ago...

... that are free now and you hardly use at all.

68 comments:

Bruce said...

No link, no comments... Is this your meta way of saying there is "nothing" I would have paid $1000 for 30 years ago that is now free?

Art in LA said...

Home telephone landline?

SteveBrooklineMA said...

School.

Ann Althouse said...

No, I was thinking of a lot of things: Google Maps… Pandora...

Renee said...

Feels odd not buying the local paper.

Something we got daily.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Weather radar at the county level. The service cost $200 per month in 1985 and is available all over the place for free these days. I farm for a living and weather radar is a key component of my daily planning.

Rob said...

Pornography, obviously.

MadisonMan said...

I use google maps all the time though.

What do I hardly use now that I would have paid $1000 for back in 1984? Not much -- I was a grad student then with no money :)

MadisonMan said...

But Bart -- then you use it. That's not what the post asks.

PackerBronco said...

The winner of the last 29 Superbowls.

Kelly said...

A set of encyclopedias.

rehajm said...

I would have gladly paid $1,000 for a Macintosh, though it was selling for $2,495.

Madonna?

tim in vermont said...

Encyclopedia comes to mind.

tim in vermont said...

Somebody who knew just about everything about the technical details of your job that you could question anytime on the most arcane matters and get an answer within a second with nobody the wiser?

Art in LA said...

@Kelly, @Tim ... yes, encyclopedias! But would you buy a set every year?

Irene said...

Magneplanar speakers.

Irene said...

Well, not "free," I suppose.

DanTheMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

PackerBronco wins the thread

DanTheMan said...

Two years of landline telephone service.

Kelly said...

True. If I recall, you got one updated encyclopedia every year after you paid off your starter set.

Anonymous said...

They're all over $1000 a year once you add in the ever increasing device bills.

Bob R said...

CD Player and Betamax are the obvious choices. I got my first CD player exactly 30 years ago. Wasn't $1k in 1984 dollars, but I think there were $1k models available.

Digital recording or music equipment. Also comes to mind. There were digital keyboards at $1K that a now considered garbage. The first ProTools rigs were very expensive and would now be considered unusable. (So far, the rule is: analog is an investment, digital is consumption.)

rhhardin said...

I paid $1,000 for my second airplane, which I put 500 hours in before selling it needing new fabric, back in the 60s.

Today I don't fly at all.

I gave it up in the 70s for long distance bike riding, which I still do.

Michael K said...

I think I could buy a new jib for $1000 then and I don't have a sailboat anymore (except a small one).

tim in vermont said...

A fully equipped darkroom.

sinz52 said...

Quality instant photography.

30 years ago, that meant a high-end Polaroid camera and lots of film.

Now, just about any cellphone comes with an electronic--and therefore instant--camera. (Which is why Polaroid is out of business.)

tim in vermont said...

I don't know what slide projectors costed then either but I bet they weren't cheap. But if you have one and it is not gathering dust, I am not sure what that says about you.

rcommal said...

30 years ago...do you mean, in 1984?

rhhardin said...

Computers. I had my own IBM 360/65 at night at work in the 70s but it was pretty pricey and filled a room. That's a couple million dollars, probably.

Today it wouldn't be used at all at any price.

MadisonMan said...

Voter ID?

Off again, I see. Off, then on. The off. Then on. Now off.

Did I miss and on/off in there? Maybe.

William said...

$1000 is much more reasonably priced than it was thirty years ago.

MadisonMan said...

30 years ago, $1000 was about two semesters' worth of tuition after you passed your prelims. It's not free now. But there are people I'm sure who hardly use their degrees.

cubanbob said...

Telex machines. True no one uses them now but back then I paid more than thousand a year for them along with 'high' end fax machines and the international tolls to send the faxes.

You asked an interesting question. it doesn't seem that daily life and the things we use are that much different until you start to think about all of the little things that are now digitized that we use without thinking and things we really couldn't do or do with a lot more complexity than we do today. GPS in our cars, online banking, social media (ugh) reading and commenting on blogs for starters. And who calls 411 anymore unless you're driving? For all it's faults who wouldn't have paid $1,000 a year 30 years ago (if you could have afforded a grand a year back then) for search engines like Google and having the whole apparatus necessary to be able to get on a net and use it? If I had a crystal ball back then and was asked if I would spend a thousand a year in those days dollars I would have said yes it in a heartbeat.

sinz52 said...

cubanbob: "...social media (ugh) reading and commenting on blogs for starters."

Well, those were available in 1984.

Before the Internet, there were Usenet and Compuserve, both of which offered discussion forums (or newsgroups). Since 1980, Compuserve began offering online news from the New York Times and other newspapers.

Of course, back then, it was nearly all text, because we only had dialup. Graphics was impractical, and video was just impossible.

Amy said...

25 years ago, I bought a 20mb hard drive (20 Mb, NOT gb) for my Apple IIGS computer. The hard drive was $640. Not quite $1000 but still quite shocking when you think of 20mb today - it's almost NOTHING.

I don't remember what the computer cost (over $2k I am pretty sure). But I sure did love it. Homeschooled my daughter for K and 1st grade on it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

MadisonMan said...
30 years ago, $1000 was about two semesters' worth of tuition after you passed your prelims. It's not free now. But there are people I'm sure who hardly use their degrees.


That's not a bad answer, though; think about MMOC classes you can take for free from major universities online--but you don't, do you?

Megaera said...

I contributed quite a lot of money each year back then to my local public radio station for two reasons: it played classical music almost all the time (and grew into playing it pretty much 24/7), and it was NOT an NPR affiliate. There was a brief hiatus when a prog on the faculty sponsored some sort of student coup d'etat and suddenly announced that the the station was going NPR "because of community demand"... which lasted all of one year until almost all of his contributions, including mine, went quite away. After another year, so did the NPR swill. Kept contributing for a long time, even after we moved away, Just Because. I guess I could get it now free, some sort of RS feed or something, but since you've reminded me, I might look up the station and if they're still staying off the NPR tit I'll write them another check. For auld lang syne, I reckon.

Joe said...

In 1995, my business partner bought one of the best prosumer video cameras for $2500 for a project we were working on. The tape deck was another $1500. Two 4GB Wide-SCSI hard drives were $1200 each. All are now worthless.

My $250 digital camera takes better video, at full HD no less, than that old camera. Don't need a tape deck. I can buy two 4TB hard drives for $170 each or FIVE terabytes of solid state discs for $2500! (Heck, even a 1TB drive costs only $60.)

mccullough said...

Sex

Gahrie said...

Cable TV?

I watch most of my video straight from disc or off of the internet nowdays. Of course, I get my internet from my cable company...someone had a good idea there......

broomhandle said...

30 years ago I was attending a California state university. Tuition was virtually free and $1000 would cover a quarters worth of food, books, lodging, alcohol and LP's. A summer of 12-hr. shifts would cover the other 9 months.

vicari valdez said...

that's progress.

Kirk Parker said...

Michael K.,

You can still buy a jib--heck, a whole set of new sails--for $1000. You just need the right size of sailboat.

MisterBuddwing said...

I would say America Online, except that it was $20 a month, not $20 a week, and they weren't around in 1984. But at least now it's free, and I hardly ever use it anymore.

OK, I'm still working on it.

Anonymous said...

Got one. A stereo. It was so so important to me then. $1000 was just about what I would spend after one of my first summer jobs. Now I don't own one. I made the switch to music via computer early and segued easily into MP3.

Never did the hipster vinyl thing because I lived through some vinyl and indy imports as a kid. I have no fond memories of lugging that stuff wherever it needed to go. I have no vinyl and only a few scattered CDs.

I went in to Best Buy the other day just to check out a friend's new purchase - a ridiculously huge TV over 75"- and I passed by the truly sad audio-only area filled with cheap, bulbous, red and black compact mini systems that looked like they belonged in a bordello, and realized that you really couldn't pay me to own one.

FleetUSA said...

Going beyond the $1k limit, I would say the ability to access thousands of films via YouTube, Netflix, etc. inexpensively(relatively).

Just like a Hollywood tycoon could order then, but now it is faster and smoother. No film reals to adjust.

FleetUSA said...

Another one: Lexis/Nexus was very expensive back then and more or less cornered the legal market.

Now most things are on line free.

Charles said...

A secretary (for a few weeks, at least).

The greatest disruption since the industrial revolution was the ability (and expectation) for executives and professionals to do their own typing, memo-sending, note-taking, travel-booking, scheduling, etc., etc...

CStanley said...

I'll second Fleet USA on films.

I am remembering around 1980 ( so just over 30 years ago) I was babysitting for a family that was very wealthy compared to mine. One evening I arrived and they'd set up a reel to reel projector loaded with Star Wars for the boys to watch. I was blown away.... Watching a recently released blockbuster in one's home! The technology wasn't new but the idea of that kind of access seemed so extravagant.

tim in vermont said...

I spent a grand on my "stereo" a couple of years back, I agree that vinyl is as over-rated as a medium as Kodachrome is compared to a good DSLR. But MP3s do not compare to CDs through a decent sound system. But now I pay the premium for Pandora and get pretty good sound without even buying CDs and hear music I never would have had I depended on CDs or vinyl.

Henry said...

It's that other hand you used to zen with.

FleetUSA said...

Professor,

Here's another approach to the same game looking back to 1984.

When we had friends over for dinner I would often ask what they would do if the suddenly had an extra $10,000. I was looking for investment type comments but often the answer was debt repayment, vacations, new furniture.

Henry said...

30 years from now, people will look back and say "smart phones"

Meade said...

"... that are free now and you hardly use at all."

Bread.
Books.
Woman.
Weed.
Obamacare.

MadisonMan said...

Are Smart Phones $1000? (My phone is dumb)

Roger Sweeny said...

Is this for a research project, your's or somebody else's?

Meade said...

Recorded music.
Movies (with popcorn).
Airfare.
Brooks Brothers suit.
Mortgage.

Peter said...

A more difficult question would be, "What satisfies this condition and is not related to electronics?

Meade said...

Beer.
10 speed bike.
Postage.
Shopping mall.
Dog (except I do use my free dog nearly every day).

furious_a said...

Google maps.
The Cloud ("someone else's server")
IMDB
Translation Services.

Scugger said...

A 30" tube analog television.
A hands free cellphone in my car.
A laserdisc player
A pair of floor standing stereo speakers.
A fax machine
A Peavey Mark III 24 channel analog mixing console
A Sony Beta portable video camera
A Fujinon analog S19x6.5 video camera lens
Most anything that was high end video equipment from the 1980's is only worth its weight in scrap.
I recall watching one company filling a dumpster with Sony Professional Television VTR's that had sold new for $30-$50,000 each.

Henry said...

MadisonMan wrote: Are Smart Phones $1000?

Annually, yes. At a minimum.

Fred Drinkwater said...

TiV writes: "I don't know what slide projectors costed then either but I bet they weren't cheap. But if you have one and it is not gathering dust, I am not sure what that says about you."

I have several (Kodak Carousels) which are not gathering dust. What it says about me is that I am at that stage of life where I have a need to troll through old slides looking for images for memorial services.
(It's truly amazing, BTW, how well the Kodachrome II images have held up, especially compared to the Fuji film from those days c. 1960)
I tried to sell off two of them on Craigslist, where the going price is apparently around $80, but no takers.

Kirk Parker said...

Fred,

"I tried to sell off two of them on Craigslist... but no takers."

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say the going price is ZERO, then?

Freeman Hunt said...

My parents bought a home PC in 1984. It cost over $1000 at the time. It's somewhere in my garage now.

think about MMOC classes you can take for free from major universities online--but you don't, do you?

I do. It seems incredible to me that they are available. I feel as though they might be snatched away at any moment, as though someone said, "Here's my diamond mine. Take as much as you want." "Really? What? Are you well? Are you sure? Really? You are certain that this is alright with you? Yes? It's okay then? I'm going in now; still fine?" And so on.

Anonymous said...
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tim in vermont said...

Not exactly per the question, but I live on a lake, and as a kid, lakes were about rowboats. There would be places that rented them, people fished in them all the time. Wooden ones, then aluminum ones. I never see rowboats anymore. Nobody rents them to my knowledge in the area. Now I call the fisherman on the lake "BASSCAR" because they all seem to drive these high speed bass boats.

That is why, when people say that earnings have remained flat since Reagan, I question it.

In 1984, a color TV, a high school education, a steady job, a microwave oven, and a simple car put you in the middle class.