This ad from a 1964 Radio Shack catalog is a little reminder of the advances in electronics - as well as the changes in society. This "moderately priced excellent stereo system," complete with turntable, receiver and speakers, was on sale for $379.95. And today? Well, turntables have pretty much disappeared, but more importantly, listening to music has become much more of an individual activity than a collective one. Can you imagine going to Best Buy for a music player that isn't transportable - and that's tethered to an electric socket? Another big change, notes Mark Perry at The Enterprise Blog, is consumer purchasing power. Keep in mind that the average hourly wage in 1964 was only $2.50.
When measured in what is ultimately most important--the "time cost" of goods--that 1964 stereo equipment was actually very, very expensive. At the average hourly wage of $2.50, the typical American in 1964 would have had to work 152 hours (full-time for almost an entire month) to earn enough income (ignoring taxes) to purchase that "moderately priced" stereo system.
To help understand how expensive the 1964 stereo system really was, consider that a typical American today would earn almost $3,000 working 152 hours at the current average hourly wage of $19. Now imagine what you could purchase with a $3,000 budget for today's electronics products, and you'll begin to appreciate how fortunate you are today compared to the consumers in previous decades like the 1960s.