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My, How Times Have Changed

Posted by AlienCG on June 5, 2009

This past Tuesday, my Trivial Tuesday questions was to guess the 1989 price of a computer with the following specs:

New For 1989

20MHz Intel 80386 Microprocessor

VGA Graphics

2MB RAM (Expandable to 16MB)

Cache Memory

Will operate MS-DOS 3.3, MS OS/2, SCO XENIX 386 and network operating software.

Monitor and mouse not included.

Also notice, there is no hard drive on this system.  So it’s all floppy driven.

How much did it cost back in 1989?  Closest guess wins.

So, what’s the answer?  Well, let’s just say that Laura B. was the closest with $5,000 and she was well short of the actual price.  If I told the price, nobody would believe me, but what about the 1989 Radio Shack catalog….

Yes, $8,499 back in 1989.  This was cutting edge technology.  But how does it add up to the future computers?  I’m going to compare the relevant specs of the computers I’ve purchased.

My First Computer from 1998

233MHz Pentium MMX

SVGA Graphics Adapter

32MB RAM (never upgraded)

4GB Hard Drive

3.5″ Floppy Drive

Windows 95

17″ CRT Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse

Price: $1,500

OK, so there’s a $7,000 price drop in about 9 years.  My next computer, a Gateway 1GHz Pentium 3 with 20GB HDD and 128MB RAM purchased in 2001 would cost me $1,000.  Of course, back in February, I bought my Acer Extensa laptop for $549.  That is quite a difference from 1989, but remember, that Tandy 5000 MC Pro was the pinnacle of technology for the time.  One day, people will look back at the ad for my laptop and laugh at the specs for the price.  Thanks for your guesses and I hope you enjoyed this look back.

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4 Responses to “My, How Times Have Changed”

  1. Boy was I off! Way off. I knew they had dropped in price quite a bit, but WOW. No wonder I didnt’ have one then.

    We have a very old computer… a Comodor (Pet model I think) that used huge floppies that were easy to damage. A brother-in-law gave it to my sons when he was done with it.

  2. laura b. said

    I looked it up, and what is kind of incredible is that in 1989 15% of households had a personal computer. I know that is small compared to now, but still…people were willing to pay!

    This was an interesting look back.

  3. Manuel said

    Wow, that is amazing. Who could afford that??!?!

  4. Dartan said

    I guess mail order was the way to go back then too. I got my first computer in 1989 from Gateway 2000 (yes, it was Gateway 2000 back then, not Gateway). It was a 386/33 with 4MB RAM, 200MB hard drive, VGA graphics with a 14″ monitor plus keyboard and mouse in a tower. All of that was only $3400. I started my very first BBS on that system back in Parma, OH while still in high school. Oh, and that computer served me well throughout college (though with some upgrades along the way).

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