Tech inflation: 43 years of tech prices

Getting your hands on the very latest tech doesn’t come cheap, with the iPhone 12 currently retailing from £799, and the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both having launched this year priced at £449. 

The first edition of any new tech is generally more expensive from day one. For example, the first ever mobile phone - the chunky Motorola DynaTAC - cost $3,995 when it launched in 1984, $9,963 (£7,472) in today’s money. 

Other high-tech items over the years include the original Apple Macintosh computer with its 9-inch screen and 128K of RAM. This was priced at $2,495 which, with inflation, would be £4,666 in today’s money. Similarly, the first VHS machine - the JVC HR-3300 - would be £4,105 at today’s rates. 

However, not all of the tech that we analysed was quite so expensive when it launched, with some tech being a relative bargain. For example, the Nintendo Game Boy retailed for just $90 when it launched in 1989, which is around £141 in 2020. 

The launch of new tech also has an impact on the price of its predecessor. For example, the iPhone X had dropped in value by just over a third by the time the new iPhone 11 came out. With the recent launch of the iPhone 12, you could make a similar saving if you pick up an iPhone 11 as retailers make space for the new version. 

While it may seem that new tech is expensive, these figures show that consumers over the past 43 years have generally always had to pay a premium to pick up the latest tech. 

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We took the launch price of each item in US dollars from various sources (which can be viewed here) and adjusted for inflation using the US Inflation Calculator
iPhone comparison pricing provided by Mazuma
We then converted these inflation-adjusted prices into pounds, at a rate of $1.00 to £0.75, correct as of 20/06/2020.