AH Tech Talk: What Would Today's Tech & Apps Cost In 1985?

One of the main characteristics of today's world is how easy and fast it is for us to have access to information. If you live in the US and want to call a friend or relative in Japan, you can do so with a few taps on your smartphone, or if you want to get directions to anywhere just use Google Maps, and so on. However, all of this is new for us, with smartphones being around for only a few years. Before Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other mobile operating systems, life wasn't that easy and the same features we have (almost) for free on our hands usually had an enormous cost, which means only businesses could usually benefit from them. But exactly how much are we talking about? To put that in perspective, WebpageFX put together a list comparing the prices of apps and services commonly available for free on our smartphones today and back in 1985.

Beginning with the smartphone itself, if today you can get a new device for $0 down payment on a carrier contract, or a mid-range Android phone for around $200, in 1985 you would pay $9,000 on the Motorola DynaTac, not to mention the cost of making calls. Sending SMS messages is a breeze and you usually have unlimited texting with a contract, but in 1985, you would pay $1,105 on a fax machine. If today you can say "Ok Google, give me directions to Starbucks" and get them on your phone, a Magellan GPS NAV 1000 would require you to pay $6,630 30 years ago. A voice recorder (Realistic CTR-70) would cost $110, and a Casio DBC 600 digital watch would be yours for $45. To listen to good music, you would have to pay $400 on a Sony D-50 Discman while a Sony CFD 444 boom box radio was priced at $640. If you wanted something distantly similar to Google to acquire knowledge, the Encyclopedia Britannica used to cost $2,210. What would be of our boredom moments without a cool game to kill time? However, in the 80s, a Nintendo Entertainment System wouldn't come cheap at $440, while today you can get most games for free on the Play Store. If you totally ditched TV in favor of Netflix and Hulu, these cost a fraction of the $665 a portable Casio Mini Color TV cost at the time.

Filming or taking photos? A good Sony video camera (CCD-V8) would cost you $3,745 while a film camera from Canon was $295 and it could only take a few shots. While today you can use Skype or Hangouts for free on business meetings with members across the world, a video conference could cost more than $110,520. Perhaps the most amazing price difference is the processing power included in your smartphone: back in 1985, you would pay around $32 million on a Cray-2 supercomputer. If you add up all these prices, having all the features on a smartphone would cost $32,136,910, which would be enough to buy 109 new houses, 957 new cars or 84,796 monder day computers, although it is important to notice that the highest price there is for the processing power. You can check the full infographic below for more details.

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About the Author

Muni Perez

Brazilian living in beautiful Rio, I have been an Android user since 2011 and love the openness of the system. Avid for mobile devices and technology in general, I'm also a merchant marine student, web developer and an aircraft pilot.