On Sept. 12, Apple held an iPhone event, which was live-streamed on Twitter for the first time. New iPhones and an Apple Watch Series 4 were revealed.
Now that Apple has sold more than a billion iPhones, it’s easy to forget that it all began with two college dropouts in a garage. Since 1976, Apple has seen its share of ups and downs, but the company’s 40-plus-year resume is packed with tech milestones. From the very first Macintosh to the iPhone XS, Apple is known just as much for high price tags as it is for innovation.
Click through to look at the most significant products Apple has introduced over the years, and see what they cost then and what they would cost now, adjusted for inflation.
Apple II (1977)
Cost Then: $1,298
Cost Now: $5,333
Compared to 1976’s Apple I, the Apple II was a revelation. While the first Apple lacked a monitor, separate keyboard or casing, the Apple II included the whole package, complete with the introduction of five-color on-screen graphics.
Adjusted for inflation, you could buy a used car for what the Apple II costs, but its price tag had brought the budding company $7.8 million in sales by 1978 — about $30 million in today’s money.
Cost Then: $2,495
Cost Now: $6,036
This is when the world started calling Apples “Macs.”
Though dropping six grand on a computer today is cringe-worthy, the original Macintosh was considered the first relatively affordable computer with a graphical interface at the time. Its specs included a whopping 128 KB of RAM, 400 KB of storage, a floppy disk drive and a 9-inch monochrome display.
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Cost Then: $6,995
Cost Now: $16,207
Apple no longer makes printers, but the LaserWriter was a huge initiative at the time. Its professional print quality aimed for the business market, and it was the first network-capable printer.
It also introduced the world to Adobe Systems, which provided the PostScript programming language that powered the machine. If the original price looked scary, it was, so Apple dropped it to $5,000 by fall 1986.
Cost Then: $700
Cost Now: $1,192
Developed while legendary Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was away from the company, and famously derided by him, the tablet-like touchscreen Newton paved the way for the success of the PDA, and later, the iPad. This small, hand-held product didn’t catch on at the time, but it played a role in inspiring today’s “all-in-one” device design, and even featured ahead-of-its-time handwriting recognition capabilities.
Power Macintosh (1994)
Cost Then: $2,600
Cost Now: $4,282
The closest modern equivalent of the Power Mac, the Mac Pro, starts at $2,999. Of course, its specs are just a little different.
While the original Power Macintosh — which was sold as the Macintosh Performa 6110CD for home use — sported a 60 MHz PowerPC 601 processor, the Pro rocks a 3.5GHz, 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor and its 8 MB of RAM are dwarfed by the Mac Pro’s 16 GB of RAM.
iMac G3 (1998)
Cost Then: $1,299
Cost Now: $1,967
The introduction of the iMac in 1998 marked the first time Apple used its much-imitated “i” branding. At the time, the “i” in “iMac” stood for “internet,” as the all-in-one desktop computer featured a built-in modem, which was uncommon when it launched. The first model came in a blue-green hue, called “bondi blue and ice” by Apple, but it later was available in a rainbow of colors. It marked the first major Apple work by iconic designer Jony Ive.
The iMac line looks a lot different — and less colorful — today, but it’s still kicking, with 21.5-inch models starting at $1,099.
Final Cut Pro (1999)
Cost Then: Starting at $300
Cost Now: $450
With so much focus on slick hardware, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Apple is a software company, too — unless you’re a filmmaker who just dropped $300 on Final Cut Pro, that is.
The pitch remains the same today as it was in 1999: For one price, you get editing, compositing and effects in one professional software package. Apple positioned Final Cut as a “post-production studio in a box,” though the philosophy changed a bit as numerous software expansions continued to add features.
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Cost Then: $299
Cost Now: $442
AirPort started with multiple offerings, and the tradition continues. Introduced as a wireless networking solution for 802.11b connections, the AirPort Base Station looked like a tiny UFO, but you always could opt for an AirPort card to add wireless functionality to your Mac.
Today, you can get AirPort models spanning from the Express to the 3TB Time Capsule, ranging from $99 to $399.
Power Mac G4 Cube (2000)
Cost Then: $1,799
Cost Now: $2,567
The Power Mac G4 Cube’s beautiful design couldn’t offset the high price tag, which, consequently, led to its marketplace struggles.
By 2001, its entry-level price had been slashed to $1,299. The cube-shaped brains of the box live today in the form of the Mac Mini series, however. Though the Mini doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or speakers like the G4 Cube, it starts at a much more reasonable $499.
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Cost Then: Starting at $399
Cost Now: Starting at $554
From 2001 to 2011, Apple sold 300 million iPods. Though the idea of a dedicated MP3 player seems outdated today, the at-the-time appeal of carrying 1,000 songs on the original, scroll-wheel-equipped model’s 5 GB hard drive cannot be overstated.
The iPod line eventually included a wide variety of models — from the Nano to the Shuffle — but Apple has since consolidated its offerings to just the iPod touch, which retails for $199 or $299, depending on storage size.
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Cost Then: $1,099
Cost Now: $1,338
Remember the early 2000s, when all the coolest tech products — from the iPod to the Wii — were glossy white? Yep, the MacBook was, too.
Starting a legacy that still thrives, the original 13-inch MacBook laptop was powered by a 1.83 GHz Intel “Core Duo” processor and featured a 13-inch widescreen display, complete with modern perks, such as a built-in iSight camera, USB ports and Bluetooth compatibility. Nowadays, an entry-level MacBook starts at a fairly comparable $1,299.
Cost Then: Starting at $499
Cost Now: $608
Before you can sell a billion, you’ve got to start with one. The iPhone might not have been the first all-in-one hand-held device, but its mainstream appeal and standard feature set established the baseline for the modern smartphone. If your current device has WiFi support, Bluetooth, a camera, glass screen, accelerometer and multi-touch, you probably can thank the iPhone.
In 2018, an iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch display will cost you $699, meaning Apple actually has raised the price in this arena.
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MacBook Air (2008)
Cost Then: $1,799
Cost Now: $2,191
Originally touted for its crazy-thin dimensions, the MacBook Air eventually caught up in terms of power and completely replaced the MacBook line from 2012 to 2015. Because Apple has had a full decade to get a better handle on squeezing more power into less space, modern MacBook Air laptops come at a much lower cost — in 2018, a 13-inch MacBook Air can be had for $999.
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Cost Then: Starting at $499
Cost Now: $568
Microsoft introduced the tablet format in 2000, but it was Apple that finally got the tablet to catch on in 2010. Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates acknowledges that Apple “did some things better than I did,” noting that Apple nailed it in terms of “timing,” “engineering work” and “just the package that was put together.”
That slick package ended up being the biggest product launch of 2010 and went on to sell more than 350 million units, across various iPad models.
Today, Apple offers standard 32GB model iPads from $329.
iPhone 6 (2014)
Cost Then: Starting at $549
Cost Now: $569
The iPhone 6 makes the list not necessarily for its feature set, but for its groundbreaking mainstream penetration. Between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, this model has sold more than 100 million units since its introduction in 2014, making it the best-selling iPhone to date.
Perhaps due to this ubiquity, you still can get a 4.7-inch iPhone 6s, the phone’s more advanced update, straight from Apple for $449.
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Apple Watch (2015)
Cost Then: Starting at $349
Cost Now: Starting at $399
Apple made its Apple Watch available on April 24, 2015. The company described it as “its most personal device ever.”
The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399. If you want yours with an Hermès strap, get ready to shell out more: Prices for the most luxe version of the Apple Watch start at $1,399.
The personal device has proven popular: Research from the firm Canalys showed that Apple shipped 3.5 million Apple Watches worldwide in the second quarter of 2018 alone.
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iPhone X (2017)
Cost Then and Now: $999
Buoyed by crazy hype and endless rumors, Apple premiered the iPhone X in 2017, using its glass body, curved Super Retina screen and facial recognition features to test the waters of a high-priced, premium smartphone market.
Although Wall Street expected dismal iPhone X sales, Apple’s quarterly revenue was $88.3 billion in the fiscal quarter ending on Dec. 30, 2017.
During its special event on Sept. 12, 2018, Apple unveiled the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
The iPhone XS is the improved version of 2017’s iPhone X. It features the Super Retina display in two sizes, advanced face recognition and a dual-camera system. The iPhone XS Max is the bigger version, with the largest display ever on an iPhone. You’ll pay $100 more for the bigger screen. The iPhone XS Max’s price tag of $1,099 is the most expensive iPhone produced to date.
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iPhone XR (2018)
Cost of iPhone XR: $749
Revealed on Sept. 12, the iPhone XR is the newest entry-level iPhone. Unlike the other iPhone X models which have glass bodies, the iPhone XR features an aluminum body. Apple fans can take their pick of color finishes: white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red. For the largest size, 256 GB, you’ll pay $899.
The Cost of Apple Products Since 1977
Over the years, Apple’s products have gone through a slew of changes, but one thing has always remained the same: high prices. When compared to some of the tech giant’s earlier and more expensive innovations, the iPhone X’s heavily criticized $999 price tag comes off looking like a bargain.
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Ruth Sarreal contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the “Cost Now” prices by using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator, converting the cost of the product from its original release date to the equivalent USD value according to the most current CPI data available at the time of writing.
About the Author
Dan is an honors graduate of western Kentucky’s Murray State University and has been a freelance writer and full-time creative since 2009, in addition to co-founding and co-owning two active media production businesses – one for the west coast in Los Angeles, California, and one for the east in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an independent creative professional with a scroll-like resume of both blue collar and white collar experience and a longtime business writer, Dan has been fortunate enough to publish with the likes of Chron.com, Fortune, The Motley Fool, Career Trends, Bizfluent, MSN Money, Legal Beagle, San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate, USA Today, Builder’s Capital, Salon.com and Zacks.com, among others. He’s also offered his words to such diverse brands as ASUS, Kellog’s, Discover, Sony Pictures, Samsung, Linksys, LIVESTRONG, Office Depot, Canon Inc., Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation and Verizon, as well as frequently writing in the fields of entertainment, travel, fitness, lifestyle and fashion.