Special Report

Cost of a Computer the Year You Were Born

Source: Dana Sibera (Danamania) / Wikimedia Commons

1991
> Notable computer: Apple Macintosh PowerBook
> Price tag: $2,299
> Inflation adjusted price: $4,247

Apple’s first attempt at a portable laptop computer in 1989 resulted in the Macintosh Portable, which at 16 pounds nearly weighed as much as the desktop that had preceded it. The PowerBook, however, weighed about 6 pounds and had all the processing power of the Portable. The PowerBook was also cheaper, and its keyboard position was considered an ergonomic innovation.

Source: Courtesy of IBM

1992
> Notable computer: IBM ThinkPad
> Price tag: $2,375
> Inflation adjusted price: $4,259

The ThinkPad utilized the PenPoint Operating System. In addition to a traditional keyboard system, users could touch the screen with a stylus to operate their computers. The ThinkPad was named with former IBM President Thomas J. Watson, Sr. in mind, who coined the company’s motto “Think.”

Source: Rama and Musee Bolo / Wikimedia Commons

1993
> Notable computer: Apple Newton MessagePad
> Price tag: $700
> Inflation adjusted price: $1,219

The Apple Newton MessagePad was one of the first Personal Digital Assistants and a precursor to many of today’s smartphones. The device’s flawed handwriting recognition software, however, led to poor sales and ultimately the product’s discontinuation in 1998.

Source: Courtesy of IBM

1994
> Notable computer: IBM ThinkPad 755CD
> Price tag: $7,599
> Inflation adjusted price: $12,900

The ThinkPad 755CD was the first laptop with a built-in CD-ROM drive. While notebook computers were still far less popular than desktops, the innovation was an important step to wide public adoption of laptop computing.

Source: Courtesy of Gateway

1995
> Notable computer: Gateway Solo 2000
> Price tag: $3,499
> Inflation adjusted price: $5,776

By 1995, many laptops were running on Intel Pentium processors, had built-in CD-ROM drives, operating Windows 95, and were gaining notoriety. The Gateway Solo 2000 was one such popular model.