Special Report

The Cost of a Computer the Year You Were Born

Compaq Portable II, 1986

1986
>Notable computer:
Compaq Portable II
>Price tag: $3,499
>Inflation adjusted price: $7,570

The Compaq Portable II, though markedly lighter than its predecessors, is hardly portable by today’s standards. Despite the machine’s relatively small 9 inch monitor, it weighed 26 pounds and did not pack as neatly as modern laptops.

Commodore Amiga, 1987
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1987
>Notable computer:
Commodore Amiga 500
>Price tag: $700
>Inflation adjusted price: $1,467

Like some of its predecessors, including the Commodore 64, the Commodore Amiga is one of the most popular computers in history, selling more than 6 million units. The Amiga was relatively affordable and was also the first commercially available machine capable of animation and graphic design work.

NeXT Cube, 1988
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1988
>Notable computer:
NeXT Cube
>Price tag: $6,500
>Inflation adjusted price: $13,028

Just three years after being forced out of Apple, Steve Jobs introduced the NeXT with his new company, Cube. NeXT was eventually bought by Apple and the Cube’s operating system served as the foundation for Apple’s Mac OS.

Macintosh Portable M5120, 1989

1989
>Notable computer:
Macintosh Portable M5120
>Price tag: $7,300
>Inflation adjusted price: $13,959

Apple’s first portable Macintosh computer, the Portable M5120 had a crisper display and more processing power than most laptops available at the time. While it was designed to be the first portable Apple computer, people were known to already carry Macintosh desktops under their arms or in carrying cases while traveling. At 16 pounds, the laptop weighed almost as much as the desktop that preceded it.

The Poqet PC, 1990

1990
>Notable computer:
Poqet PC
>Price tag: $1,995
>Inflation adjusted price: $3,619

At the time of its release, the Poqet PC was the smallest computer on the market. It was powered by just two AA batteries and had innovative power management software that could make the batteries last for several weeks.