Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Historical cost of computer equipment ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Historical cost of computer equipment
Category: Computers
Asked by: resea-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 06 Oct 2006 14:35 PDT
Expires: 05 Nov 2006 13:35 PST
Question ID: 771396
What has been the change in the cost of 'computing equipment' in the
past decade? I would like to be able to graph the decrease in cost
over that time. Is it 90% or 75% or less? Ideally by type of periphal CPU,
disk, etc., but overall number is good. I have heard that the Bureau
of Labor Statistics may have this buried in their data somewhere but
can't find it.
Subject: Re: Historical cost of computer equipment
Answered By: scriptor-ga on 06 Oct 2006 15:10 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear resea,

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has historical data for the cost
of electronic computers and computer equipment since December 1990,
represented by the Producer Price Index (PPI) for these kinds of
products. The Producer Price Index program measures the average change
over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for
their output, so it should be just what you are looking for.

Since you are interested in data relating to the past 10 years, I have
limited my research to the years 1995 to 2005 (final data for 2006 is
not available yet).

This graph shows the development of cost for computers and computer
equipment in general, from January 1995 to December 2005:

The same price index, in numbers:
1995 - 173.0
1996 - 150.7
1997 - 129.7
1998 - 108.2
1999 -  93.5
2000 -  86.3
2001 -  78.4
2002 -  68.9
2003 -  61.5
2004 -  56.6
2005 -  51.9

This graph illustrates the development of cost for electronic
computers, but not computer equipment, in the years 1995 to 2005:

The same price index, in numbers:
1995 - 850.1
1996 - 697.0
1997 - 544.9
1998 - 405.6
1999 - 312.6 
2000 - 261.6 
2001 - 203.4 
2002 - 153.5 
2003 - 122.3 
2004 - 107.3 
2005 -  85.5

A broad selection of more detailed sub-category data (for storage
devices, printers, terminals, etc.) is available through the price
index database of the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

To find data for computers and equipment, select group 11 "Machinery
and equipment" in box 1 on the left side. Then, in box 2 on the right
side, choose any of the categories you are interested in.
Computer-related categories and sub-categories start at 115,
"Electronic computers and computer equipment".
Once you have made your choice, just click the "Get data" button. You
will be taken to a table that generically displays price index data
for the chosen products for the years 1996 to 2006 (the latter being
preliminary data). You can  change the year range and choose the
"include graphs" option. Then, click the small round "GO" button. You
will get a graph and a table for the years you selected.

I hope that this will be useful for you.
Best regards,
resea-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent. Very fast and just what I was looking for. Thanks very much
for your help.

Subject: Re: Historical cost of computer equipment
From: probonopublico-ga on 06 Oct 2006 23:12 PDT

And just think of all the improvements over the same period!

And also the take up by users!
Subject: Re: Historical cost of computer equipment
From: jcummins-ga on 10 Oct 2006 22:37 PDT
I still have a receipt dating back to 1993 for an old 386 + math
coprocessor for $2600. Makes me laugh.
Subject: Re: Historical cost of computer equipment
From: probonopublico-ga on 10 Oct 2006 23:04 PDT
The first computer that I ever bought with my own money was in 1983.

It was an Osborne 'portable' and as about as heavy as a sack of
potatoes. It had no hard disk and such a very tiny screen that I had
to be buy a separate monitor. Together with a very slow 'Daisy Wheel'
printer and a copy of the CP/M Operating System and Wordstar, it set
me back about 1,600 (that's UK Pounds), say $2,500.

But I loved it!
Subject: Re: Historical cost of computer equipment
From: jibal-ga on 07 Nov 2006 15:20 PST
I bought my first disk drive, for an Amiga, in 1985: $1000 for 50 megabytes.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy