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What 10 Famous Products First Cost—And What They Cost Today

Many have even gone down in price!

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Kodak Camera

Before 1888, photography was a complex process that required technical and chemical expertise. George Eastman changed photography forever when he introduced his box cameras for amateurs at a price of $25. Kodak still makes cameras today, such as the Pixpro AZ401-BK Digital Camera for $149.

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Though the first gasoline-powered car was invented in Germany by Karl Benz, the one that first became accessible to the masses was Ford’s Model T. When Henry Ford first released the car in 1908, it sold for $850—a little higher than the income of the average American worker, according to Today a Ford Fiesta starts at $14,260.

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Plane ticket

In 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airline auctioned off a ticket for the first commercial flight, Business Insider reports. The winner? A former mayor of St. Petersburg named Abram Pheil. He paid $400 for the opportunity to ride the 23 minutes across Tampa Bay. These days, you can get on a helicopter and ride over the Tampa Bay for just $39. Looking to save some pennies? Find out about 12 free things that used to cost money.

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McDonald’s meal

The Golden Arches started out as a humble hamburger stand in California in 1948. Back then, you could get a hamburger for 15 cents, washed down by an Orangeade for an additional dime. These days, a small drink will cost you $1 from the Dollar Menu.

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Color TV

The race to develop color TVs was intense. In 1954, RCA introduced its RCA CT-100 to the market for $1,000, just following Admiral and Westinghouse, according to Wired. Today, a high-end 65-inch RCA TV will cost you about $698. If you were around when color TVs came out, you’ll want to know about things that cost more when you retire.

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Apple Macintosh

Mainframe computers had been invented by the 1960s. In 1984, Steven Jobs unveiled the Apple Macintosh with a nine-inch screen. At the time it would set you back $2,500. Today, the base model iMac costs $1,099.

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Video game console

The video game industry changed forever in 1972 when the Magnavox Odyssey was released, allowing video game lovers the option to connect to their TVs and play. The Odyssey cost $99 at the time, according to Still a gamer? The Nintendo Switch will cost you $299.

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The Japanese invented the first laptop computer, the Epson HX-20, in 1981. Within two years, the handheld device became available commercially for $795. Now laptops start at less than $200 and you can get the Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop for about $314. Enjoy a good bargain? Find out 18 things you should never pay full price for.

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They’re ubiquitous today, but the first cellphone to be sold commercially was the Motorola DynaTac 8000X, Time reports. When it went on the market in 1983, it cost $3,995. Now the Motorola G7 costs $278.77.

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When Apple launched the first iPod in 2001, the company promised “100,000 songs in your pocket.” The price for that breadth of music? $399, Mashable reports. Today, the seventh generation of the iPod Touch will cost you $199.

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.