You just have to listen to anyone’s grandad – or pretty much anyone – to know it's a generally accepted fact that everything was cheaper and better back in their day.
When it comes to tech, you can throw that idea out the window(s 95). Unlike apparently everything else ("remember when sweets cost a penny", etc) tech just gets cheaper, and it just gets better.
A YouTuber called Lazy Game Reviews reviewed a laptop from 1998 that cost $20,000, which is pretty eye-watering considering even the best MacBook on the market costs less than $3000 today. But the HP Internet Advisor J2301B was a very, very expensive piece of tech.
The HP Internet Advisor J2301B was top of the range in 1995...
Watch the review – but to summarize: “You do not want this thing on your lap” (it weighs 20lbs).
For your $20,000 you did get the best of the best, probably. This bad boy was never really made for consumers – it was for tech pros and the raddest early internet surfers. But aside from a cute little pop-out mouse that all computers should have, it’s hard to say what the thing actually did.
There are some pretty complex programmes pre-loaded, but essentially, LGR says, it was just the same as a lot of mid 90s laptops, in a really, really big box. And what do you do with mid 90s laptops? LGR plays doom... on a plug-in monitor because the $20k monitor is too dark...
...But it's not worth much now
Similar laptops are going for around $300 on eBay today – that’s cheaper than most laptops and a 98.5 per cent decrease in value (don’t ask about that maths) in the space of, like, 20 years.
But that's because unless you're a computer geek who just thinks it's cool (and likes playing Doom), or you're in need of a big doorstop or something, it's not that much use to anyone.
In fact, prices have dropped in pretty much every area of tech over the past 18 years. There are a couple of explanations for it. One is that the entry of producers of countries like China into the global tech market has increased competition and pushed prices down. Low labor costs in China (people simply get paid less for production jobs) means the cost of production is lower, which means they charge less, that means people trying to compete with Chinese products also have to charge less.
A second explanation is that we’re just getting better at making stuff. Producers can make better products a lot cheaper because there’s better techniques and better equipment – they're just more efficient at making them. and that’s good news for us all, because no one wants to pay $4000 for a phone that does nothing but phone people.