Although inflation can increase costs of food, household items, electronics and even travel, demand for certain items can also drive up prices in a few short years. Comparing historical prices for common goods in the early to late 20th century with today’s costs offers some interesting insights into how consumerism has changed and evolved.
In fact, some items that people happily shell out thousands of dollars for today cost only a few bucks decades ago. On the other hand, there are goods that have gone down in price over the years. Read on to find out how much prices have changed over the last 100 years.
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Price of a New Car
- Price in 1913: $1,432.89
- Price today: $35,444
A shiny new set of wheels purchased about 100 years ago would cost you a fraction of today’s market price, however, current auto prices are right in line with inflation. A new car would have cost you $1,432.89 in 1913 — adjusted for inflation in 2018, that would be $36,241.44.
Today, you can expect to pay an average price of $35,444 for a new car.
Price of a House
- Price in 1970: $25,000
- Price today: $407,300
Back in 1970, you only needed $25,000 to live the American dream and own your own home. Since the late 1960s, though, the real estate market has endured many ups and downs, and today home prices continue to rise. The price of a new house in 1970, adjusted for inflation in 2018, would be $163,933.20, but the average actual price in 2018 is $407,300.
Price of Airline Bag and Change Fees
- Price in 1979: 50 cents
- Price today: $0 to $50
If you wanted to hop on a plane in 1979, you would have spent just 50 cents on airline baggage fees. Unfortunately, airline fees have increased dramatically over the years, and the few companies that still offer low-fee and fee-free travel services tend to brag about it in their advertising.
Adjusted for inflation, the 1979 price for baggage and change fees in 2018 would be $1.81. However, the actual price we pay for extra flight costs ranges from $0 to $50 depending on the airline.
Price of a Half-Gallon of Milk
- Price in 1918: 28 cents
- Price today: $2.01
If you ran to the store for a half-gallon of milk in 1918, you probably would have paid 28 cents. Today, dairy prices fluctuate significantly by season, and it’s one of the many things dependent on supply and demand. The 1918 price of a half-gallon of milk, adjusted for inflation in 2018, would be $4.96, but the price you can expect to pay at your neighborhood grocery store today is just $2.01.
Price of a Dozen Eggs
- Price in 1960: 57 cents
- Price today: $1.82
A carton of eggs would have cost you 57 cents in 1960. If you adjust that price for 2018 inflation, eggs should be a premium purchase at $4.82. Fortunately, the average price of a dozen eggs today is just $1.82, so you can spice up your breakfast with eggs at a small cost.
Price of a Round Steak
- Price in 1918: 37 cents
- Price today: $5.65
A pound of round steak might not be part of your weekly grocery list because it is — and always has been — a premium purchase. The historical price for a pound of steak in 1918 was 37 cents, the equivalent of $6.55 in 2018, adjusted for inflation. Today, you can expect to pay approximately $5.65 per pound for steak at your local grocer.
Price of an Apple Stock Share
- Price in 1995: $1.50
- Price today: $190.80
If you made the smart choice to buy Apple stock during the dot-com boom, you’re probably seeing a serious return on your investment. Apple shares cost $1.50 back in 1995, or $2.47 adjusted for inflation in 2018. However, if you’re just buying your shares now, you can expect to pay $190.80 for a bite of Apple profits.
Price of a Facebook Stock Share
- Price in 2012: $42
- Price today: $196
Another wise dot-com investment, Facebook stock continues to climb. If you got in on the deal in 2012, you would have paid $42 per share. That’s $45.93 adjusted for 2018 inflation. However, if you want to jump on board today, you’ll pay about $196 per share for the privilege.
Price of a Pound of Bacon
- Price in 1918: 53 cents
- Price today: $5.45
It’s a staple of the typical American breakfast spread, and many claim they can’t live without it. Once a premium cut of meat, bacon would have cost you 53 cents per pound in 1918. The adjusted inflation price in 2018 would be $9.38 per pound, but we only pay about $5.45 to enjoy a sizzling morning treat.
Price of a Portable Apple Mac
- Price in 1989: $6,500
- Price today: $999
The original Apple Macintosh desktop computer evolved into a portable model in 1989 but was still rather hefty compared to today’s laptops. Weighing in at 16 pounds and costing $6,500 — $13,304.17 adjusted for inflation — this computer was designed for users who wanted to tote their Macs to work or elsewhere. Today, you can pick up a much lighter MacBook Air starting at $999.
Price of a Movie Ticket
- Price in 1960: 75 cents
- Price today: $13.69
The average price of a movie ticket in 1960 was 75 cents. This rate was cheap enough to get people interested in the latest flicks from the motion picture industry, which was booming in the 1960s. Adjusted for inflation in 2018, that’s about $6.34 per ticket. However, moviegoers 13 years and up today pay $13.69 at AMC, and children get to watch their favorite flicks for $10.69.
Price of a TV
- Price in 1956: $495
- Price today: $139.99
In the 1950s, you could pick up a 21-inch “Living Color” tabletop RCA television for $495 — that’s $4,578.14 when adjusted for inflation in 2018. Traditionalists could opt for the black-and-white model. Although TVs were luxury items for many mid-century families, today you can pick up a 24-inch LED HDTV for $139.99 or get an even cheaper TV at Best Buy.
Price of a Video Game System
- Price in 1985: $199
- Price today: $79.99+
The Nintendo Entertainment System was the coveted gaming console of the 1980s, with the original sets going for $199 each; that’s about $467.54 when adjusted for 2018 inflation.
However, you can find original Nintendo Entertainment System consoles on eBay today for around $79.99 and higher depending on the seller. Alternatively, you can purchase gaming consoles that play old Nintendo games for around $129.49 on Amazon.
Price of Gas
- Price in 1956: 30 cents
- Price today: $2.90
Believe it or not, filling up the gas tank costs nearly as much in 2015 as it did in 1956. Thirty cents per gallon of gas in 1956 is the equivalent of $2.77 per gallon in 2018.
As of June 2018, the average price of unleaded gas is $2.90, according to the AAA National Average gas prices report.
Price of Alcohol
- Price in 1966: $1.27
- Price today: $14 and up
Although the overall price of alcohol has increased, inflation has decreased the value of beer, according to the Washington Post. The price of a six-pack beer in 1966 at $1.27 would be the equivalent of $9.90 in 2018 when adjusted for inflation. However, walk in any liquor store today across the country and you can grab a 24-pack of beer for about $14 to nearly $22.
Click through to see what $100 was worth in the decade you were born.
Taylor Bell contributed to the reporting for this article.
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