I saw this last week: it’s an interesting comparison of what 152 hours worth of labor (at the average hourly wage) would have bought you in 1964 vs. what it would buy you today. (Via, once again, Jonah at The Corner.)
The short version: In 1964, you could buy a turntable, amp, and two speakers. Today, you could buy a home theater system, HDTV, Blu-Ray player, GPS receiver, iPod Touch, 14MPix digital camera, laptop computer, and some other stuff in exchange for the same labor. That’s economic progress for you. (And that’s why it’s important to defend the roots of economic progress — free men and free markets — against the demagogues who would undermine them.)
I was reminded of this post when I decided to (finally!) start backing up my Mac Mini. I’ve always backed up the critical stuff off-site, either at my SVN host, or directly to Amazon S3, but thought it was time to set up a full-disk backup to protect all the not-critical-but-annoying-to-lose bits that one accumulates over time.
Anyway, I trotted down to Fry’s, and picked up a 250GB external drive for $60. It’s nice and small (it’s actually designed as a portable external for laptops) and it’s even powered over USB, so there’s no additional power cable to deal with. I plugged it into the Mini, turned on Time Machine and … it all just works. It’s a pretty amazing set of capabilities to get from a built-in OS utility, a $60 investment, and 5 minutes of setup time … most of which was spent opening the package.
(For the curious only: 250GB is more than enough backup space for me. Since the Mini is my development machine, I’m only using about 25GB of HDD space on it.)
I don’t buy HDDs very often, and I’m always blown away when I do. I still remember the first add-on drive I bought: a 356MB Samsung SHD-3172A1 that seemed like a magical upgrade (in price/performance terms) from my original 80MB Maxtor. And today, in nominal $/GB, that drive would cost about $0.09. In material terms at least, these truly are the good old days.