A CD post a few weeks ago featured a comparison of the cost of 13 products advertised by Radio Shack in 1991 ($3,055 in 1991, $5,255 in 2013 dollars) to today’s iPhone (see photo above).
Earlier this week, Bret Swanson expanded the analysis and crunched some numbers to answer the question: “How Much Would an iPhone Have Cost in 1991?” Here’s what he found:
Considering only memory, processing, and broadband communications power, duplicating the iPhone back in 1991 would have (very roughly) cost: $1.44 million + $620,000 + $1.5 million = $3.56 million.
This doesn’t even account for the MEMS motion detectors, the camera, the iOS operating system, the brilliant display, or the endless worlds of the Internet and apps to which the iPhone connects us.
This account also ignores the crucial fact that no matter how much money one spent, it would have been impossible in 1991 to pack that much technological power into a form factor the size of the iPhone, or even a refrigerator.
But the fact that so many were so impressed by an assertion that an iPhone possesses the capabilities of $3,000 worth of 1991 electronics products – when the actual figure exceeds $3 million – reveals how fundamentally difficult it is to think in exponential terms.
HT: Colin Grabow