Saturday, February 9, 2013

Money Well Spent

Precisely 1 minute and 23 seconds. That's the time I just spent to download and install Temple Run 2 on my phone. That time frame also includes powering my phone up, inputting my security code - twice because I screwed up the first try - finding and opening Google play, searching for the game, then choosing to accept and download. 83 seconds in total.

Now, flash back 30 years to 1983. The year I graduated high school. Yes, I'm that old. Let's say you wanted a new game. The best video game console of the time was the Atari 5200, which cost just under 3 hundred dollars. In 2013, that's probably around 5 or 6 hundred dollars. The game cartridges ran anywhere from 40 to 60 dollars each, and they had mind-blowing graphics like this:

Dude, that's awesome! We should play this... like... 10 hours a day!

So, if you were over 16, had a job and a car, it only cost you around 350 dollars (not counting the gas it took to drive to Toys-R-Us) to have this amazing entertainment on your home television, which often was in use by other members of your family. No TVs in every room back then, and if you had a 2nd one, it was small and old and possibly didn't have the required hook ups for such a modern gaming system. In 1983, the federal minimum wage, which is what most teenagers worked for, was 3.35 an hour.  Leaving out taxes and social security payments for convenience (or in other words, laziness) it took 104.47 hours for a minimum wage earning teenager to earn enough to purchase this system and this game. Assuming also that he spent his money on nothing else, if he worked 20 hours per week, then he had to work 5 weeks, plus another 4 1/2 hours to have enough.

Flash forward to now. In the time that was spent then to drive to the store, get customer service to open up the case to get the game for you, stand in the checkout line to purchase, then drive back home, you can now:  download the game, play it enough to find out it's boring, delete it, try two or three other games, check some sports scores, read a blog post, update your status on Facebook, and check out movie listings to see if there's anything you want to go see tonight.

I HATE this song!  Where is my Pandora so I can give it a thumbs down?!

You might ask, "So what's your point?" Well, I'm not trying to say how bad we had it then, because it's not true. It wasn't the good old days like some people like to claim... it just was the way things were. I guess my point is that things change. When my 4 year old grandson can do something in 83 seconds that used to take me 100 plus hours, or 4300 times as long,  I marvel at technology and wonder what change the next 30 years will  bring. Hopefully I'll be around to see it. Oh, and another thing. Let's say that instead of wanting that amazing video game, I was interested in saving up to invest in this company I had heard was going to go public in 1986 called Microsoft. The initial public offering was 21 dollars a share. For my 350 dollars I would have gotten 16.67 shares in the transaction. Those shares, through the magic of stock splits, would now be equivalent to 4800 shares today, worth 27.55 per share at Friday's close. That's 132,240 dollars. A net profit of $131,890!  Not an immense fortune, but a lot more than most of us have in our bank accounts. Instead, I got to throw the Atari game in the trash a few years later. But I'll always have the memories.

From Snarky with love.

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