Old catalogs available online, or, how about a cell phone for $2,700 in 2012 dollars?

Carpe Diem points to three places to find old catalogs on-line: Vintage catalogs back to 1933 now available online

  • WishbookWeb.com has an assortment of Christmas catalogs from Sears, Spiegel, Penney and Wards from the ‘40s through 1988. The oldest are a 1933 Spiegel and 1937 Sears catalog.

Radio Shack Catalogs has two sets available:

So what can you do with these old catalogs? Consider this:

Check out page 2 of the 1988 computer catalog

A full-page focuses on a cell phone for merely $1,400.  It is only 1½” wide.  Looks to be about 8” tall and 3” deep. The antennae is as long as the body. So total height is probably 16”.

Using just the consumer price index as a quick conversion, that $1,400 price in 1988 would be about $2,700 today.  (CPI-U of 226.65 in Jan ’12 divided by 115.7 in Jan ’88 = 1.958 factor, so 1,400 x 1.958 = $2,742)

Compare that to $100 or $150 I found today at Amazon for basic, prepaid, non-smart phones.

That’s a drop in price by a factor of about 18 or 25.

Let’s don’t even consider per minute charges.

There’s never been a better time to be alive than today.

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