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What are things that used to be luxurious and expensive but are now reasonably cheap or free?

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253 points · 6 months ago

Pearls.

Before farmed pearls, the oysters had to be found and harvested in the wild (and few actually had a pearl inside) which made them rare. Because of the rarity, finding a matching set, especially a full necklace's worth, was difficult, time consuming, and therefore an extreme luxury.

Oysters can now be farmed, plus intentionally adding an irritant as a "seed" can make sure a large number of pearls can be harvested. Automated grading also reduces the labor/time costs for finding matching sets.

Most farmed oysters get seeded with several pearl bases. They are usually small spheres made of oyster shell, so in the end it's the same substance all the way through, just aligned differently.

And yet pearls aren't even the most interesting or valuable thing oysters do. They glue themselves together underwater. There are several labs around the world working as fast as they can on trying to figure this process out. A saltwater-proof adhesive that can be applied underwater and never has to dry would be immensely valuable.

And if this thread has taught me anything, a tube of the stuff will cost $5000 when it first comes out, and $1.50 two years later once we all live in our off-shore submerged kit-built homes.

Fun fact: the oil-rich Arab Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait) were historically renowned for the quality of their pearls and it formed one of the mainstays (along with mercantile trading and seafaring) of their then-sluggish economy. With the founding of the cultured pearl their economies crashed overnight until skyrocketing again with the oil boom in the 1960s.

TV. You can get a cheap used old one for like twenty bucks where as it was very expensive once

Hell, I got a 60" 2013 plasma for free. Rich people upgrade their shit all the time.

And apparently their time is worth so much that it's not even worth trying to sell it. Shit man, sounds like a great situation to be in.

Comment deleted6 months ago(31 children)

when i moved into my old apartment a previous tenant had left a copy of nightmare on elm street 3 on vhs

We got a book about how to turn your cat into an internet celebrity. We don’t like cats

If you ever wanna get rid of that book, hit me up. My cat longs to be an Internet celebrity.

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I live in NoVa and I will say that this is very rare.

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That and it used to be unheard of to have multiple TVs in your house, now basically everyone I know has at least 2

The really good one was in the family room/parlour. And a little one or a black and white was in the kitchen.

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113 points · 6 months ago

Or even just new ones. My husband and my first purchase as a married couple in 2009 was a tv. It cost us nearly $1000. Same tv now is maybe $300.

Meh, $700 for almost 10 years of use, including the wow factor of all the tech it had probably lasted at least a few years, I'd say worth it.

You'll get a similar experience buying a $1k TV today as well if it makes you feel any better!

48 points · 6 months ago

I guess that did sound whiney. I didn't mean for that. Our tv is still working perfect and is compatible with everything we use it for. I worked really hard for that tv. It was a whole months earnings for me back then. We value that tv for both the sentimentality and the hard work it represented. Weird thing to say about a tv I know...

Ah! My intent wasn't calling you out or anything, and your comment sounded pretty reasonable. I was just throwing out my opinion on the overall value that's all

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so many massive CRTs got thrown out here when they turned off analog tv.

if i had the space i would have grabbed some for old console gaming

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1.9k points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

RAM

One megabyte of RAM:

  • 1957: $411 million

  • 1980: $6,480

  • 1990: $106

  • 2000: $1.56

  • 2010: ~ $0.02

  • Dec 2017: ~ $0.0071

Source

2018: $411 million

That's like a reverse Bitcoin.

Nioctib!

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78 points · 6 months ago

Nilbog spelled backwards is Goblin!!!

It's also a pretty good name for a goblin.

Nilbog the Constipated

I feel like we have a solid children's book character on our hands here. He could offer an exciting adventure, while simultaneously teaching kids about the importance of accepting people who are different, as well as regular bowel movements.

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nioctiB, ackshually

You forgot the Klaatu Barada part though.

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Reverse Bitcoin sounds like a new move to try during sex

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Soon it will be normal Bitcoin.

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Yeah but now their high as shit for current day standards, used to be able to get 16GB DDR4 for under 80 bucks now it’s more like 180-200.

Yea I bought my 16GB (8x2) for 69.99 when building my PC, the same exact set is over 200 now. Hope that changes soon. Heard that China was looking into price fixing so...yea maybe will come of that if it did happen, probably won't though.

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13 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

2 years ago I got 16gb (2x8gb) of ddr4 for AU$140 the same kit today costs AU$270...

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48 points · 6 months ago

I remember getting a memory expansion card for an IBM PC back around 1984 at a place I used to work/intern for. It held 384KB in 64Kb memory chips (8+1 for parity gave you 64KB total) so you needed to populate it with 6 banks of 9 chips (54 chips total.) The board itself was over $1000, and to fully populate it was another $2000 or so. All to get a whopping roughly 1/3 megabyte of RAM in addition to the 256KB it came with.

Haha, I heard a story on a podcast. Dude bought like 8GB of RAM, and had an idea. He gets the receipt and call his mother. He called her and was like

"Hey Mom, you remember that desktop I had as a kid, and really wanted a memory expansion?"

"Yeah, that was expensive as hell, 800$ if I remember correctly"

"Yeah, well I just bought like 100x that, guess how much it costs now"

"I don't know, probably 400$?"

"No, it was 84$" (or something, this is off memory)

He said he just heard the phone drop and go silent for a bit. Simply amazing at how fast we've increased in not only capacity and speed, but it's so much cheaper that literally any average joe can get an upgrade (maybe with some saving). Back then upgrading a computer was a serious consideration of yearly budget, mass saving, and if it was even worth it.

Those were crazy days.

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43 points · 6 months ago

I remember when flash drives would cost $30-60 each, and now I can get them for maybe a couple bucks at Staples.

My college bookstore had a 128 megabyte USB drive for $199.99 in about 2000-2001. Granted, that was a ripoff bookstore price but those things were expensive.

Today, I have a flyer from Microcenter offering 32gig drive (or microSD) for free, no purchase required.

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If Lamborghinis scaled in prices the same way transistors did, it would be cheaper to throw away and buy a new Lamborghini than to pay to park it.

How do you throw away a Lamborghini?

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45 points · 6 months ago

Same way you throw away a Ferrari.

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Drive towards a cliff. Jump out

y, R2, y

Wingsuit away and grapple the nearest decent vehicle, I presume.

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Original Poster56 points · 6 months ago

Too bad it's been increasing recently though.

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999 points · 6 months ago

Pepper and spices in general used to be worth more than their weight in gold (quality saffron still is, I think).

I remember seeing a painting by a Dutch artist from 1600 or so, and it was commissioned by some rich guy showcasing his wealth. It was a still life of his dining room table and there were all sorts of exotic foods and stuff. But the real display of wealth was there was a decent amount of pepper on the table. That was how the person looking at the painting was supposed to know that this guy was rich as fuck.

In Dutch we have the expressions 'peperduur'. It means, expensive as pepper.

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120 points · 6 months ago

Ah saffron... How I wish I could afford you!

49 points · 6 months ago

Yosaffbridge

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Saffron is $5 at Trader Joe’s! Probably not the highest quality but I use it for risotto and roasted veg and it tastes great.

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There is a theory that, as spices became cheaper, the tastes of the elite moved away from highly spiced dishes and toward the more sauce-based cooking style of classic French cuisine as a way of differentiating themselves from the middle classes that could now afford spices.

I've always found it interesting that when you look at historical recipes, the amount of spices required decreases steadily as the recipes become more recent. Even 18-19th century recipes tend to use spices like nutmeg in vastly larger quantities than we do today.

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Saffron is more expensive than silver per gram. Gold still has it beat, though.

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1.1k points · 6 months ago

Pineapples, back in the day you could rent a pineapple to show off at your dinner banquet but they were too expensive for the average person to purchase.

Today they are available in every supermarket and relatively cheap.

299 points · 6 months ago

Same with sweet tea. Tea, sugar, and ice were all expensive ingredients that had to be shipped from afar. When you see a tv show or a movie portraying some old timey southern dude drinking sweet tea on his porch, that was supposed to be a big display of wealth.

Ice big time, they use to harvest it from frozen lakes then started shipping it in cars surrounded with bales of hay to insulate it and keep it frozen.

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also bananas http://www.jimmccluskey.com/history-of-the-banana/

at the World's Fair, one banana cost an hour's wage. I've also heard this story in another version that says each slice cost $0.10.

it's one banana, Michael. What could it cost, ten dollars?

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What happened if one of the guests ate the pineapple?

Since it was the 18th century, I would guess the guest became the legal property of the pineapple rental company. That seems to be how they did things back then.

I guess they were screwed and had to pay for it, I imagine they might even be charged with a crime or something.

Honestly I'm just pulling that out of the air, no clue.

You'd just take it at a loss. Been to a lot of parties where someone will put out an expensive liquor, expecting maybe people to get an extremely small amount, and really only those people who'd really appreciate it and had the experience to know the difference between shitty liquor and really nice liquor.

Subsequently I've seen a dumb kid and alcoholic who didn't know good drinks (different situations) make a huge dent in a really expensive bottle. The look on everyones face watching them down glass after glass was great though.

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262 points · 6 months ago

Cotton. Before the cotton gin, cotton was so expensive to process by hand that it would be unthinkable to use it to make common, cheap clothing like underwear. Linen from flax was the everyday plant fiber prior to the 19th century.

There came a time around the 1830s where the price of cotton dropped so much that the wealthy stopped wearing it. It became a sign of wealth to continue wearing linen instead. This is also around the same time that you start to see rugged clothing made from cotton, like blue jeans. Before that, cotton was too expensive for work wear.

107 points · 6 months ago

that's even funnier because linen is a premium textile now

46 points · 6 months ago

I read something once which said that a shirt in the 1700s was so labor intensive that at minimum wage it would cost around $6000 in today’s money to make. This was after you factored in all the labor of growing, weaving , and sewing the cotton

What did people wear then? I assume 99% of people couldn't afford $6000 shirts.

Wool I imagine. Too lazy and too midnight to look it up.

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1.1k points · 6 months ago

Knowledge. When I was growing up, a set of encyclopedias could easily cost more than £1000, so they were only for the rich or really dedicated parents. Then Microsoft Encarta happened, and the bottom fell out of the encyclopedia market, and now with Wikipedia and the internet as a whole no-one needs to pay a penny.

613 points · 6 months ago

That said, do consider donating to Wikipedia once in a while.

Fucking hell! I'm not even on Wikipedia right now.

The Jimmybots are getting smarter. Soon you'll see his disappointed face in your dreams.

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I recently had a conversation with my 60+ year old Dad. He was joyfully telling me all about something he had read on Wikipedia. He said he was so impressed by the site that he donated to them. It’s about the coolest thing my Dad has ever done.

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"You know what I value more than materialistic things? KNAWWLEDGE"

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Encarta was awesome for its day.

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61 points · 6 months ago

Is there really no market for physical books anymore? I feel lawyers or rich people would just buy sets to fill their bookcases inn the offices lol

Lawyer here: if I have the option, I always use a physical book. But I'm in the minority.

To a certain extent. Law school preaches that we pay for the books (because they get a cut) but all of our professors use tech savvy options. My whole school operates on a fairly tech savvy system.

I don't mean books as in textbooks. I mean books as in journal reports, statute books etc.

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466 points · 6 months ago

Computers. Where I used to work, there was a receipt framed for an Apple Lisa. $5600

What’s that adjusted for inflation ?

155 points · 6 months ago

The Lisa came out in 1983, so $13,781.85

Its original price in 1983 was almost $10K.

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153 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

Back in 1991 we got a computer and for an extra 95$ we could upgrade 200 mb to a 400 mb

now you can buy a 2 terabyte drive for roughly 95$

edit- the word roughly(I forget that Australia is an expensive place)

That would've actually been a killer deal back then.

That's actually $171 in today's money.

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222 points · 6 months ago

My first boyfriend had a cellular phone in 1989. He paid $2,500 for the phone itself and it was $2 a minute for calls.

Shit - I remember my wife (Then Girlfriend) paying over $7/min for calls on a bag phone circa 1995.

24 points · 6 months ago

To be fair, flagship phones are near 1k. My cheap ass Moto E was $99 so you can get cheapo phones now.

My mom had one in the early 90s because she was a nurse that drove around administering meds and doing catheters etc for people who were on hospice at home. She also had a pager, so we could get hold of her without calling. If you called it had better be an emergency, because it was so expensive. I can't remember now but we had a bunch of beeper codes for things like 'I'm home safe from school', etc.

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Calculators. Back in the 70s I worked for a guy who had a fancy scientific calculator worth a couple hundred dollars. He wouldn't let anyone else touch it. The rest of us were reliant on the old fashioned adding machines.

51 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

hell no boi we still gotta buy the same ti graphing calculators from the 90s for like a hundred bucks. I don't fucking understand. What makes them so expensive? I can buy so much more computational power with 100 dollars. What in the fuck?

source: im a highschool sophomore

edit: sophomore, not freshman. what the hell is wrong with me lmao

You are paying for a standardized calculator, not the computational power. That $100 is so you can walk into a test and have the proctors know how to wipe the calculator's memory clear reliably and completely so you can use it on a standardized test. If everyone was using a different model of calculator, they couldn't be sure they were actually deleting the memory and preventing cheating. So you would be stuck using a four function calculator.

Also, it's about as powerful as the first generation Nintendo Game Boy, so you can play some awesome games on it.

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9 points · 6 months ago

It's called a monopoly.

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What? This was exactly where someone was supposed to point out that the TI-84 they are required to get for school still costs hundreds of dollars!

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630 points · 6 months ago

Light.

Back in the olden days, people used to use a candle - which would normally burn out every night. They used to get a new candle every single night, which as you might imagine can be quite resource-heavy.

Now, however, we can get LEDs with the same brightness for less than 10 dollars that could last practically forever and it only uses ~10-15 watts of electricity, which is really cheap.

78 points · 6 months ago

They used oil lanterns too. But yeah, it takes a lot of engineering before an oil lantern gets anywhere as bright as a 400+ lumen bulb.

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Not in fucking Ontario.

No LED's in Ontario?

It was more a joke that Ontario has pretty high electricity rates right now.

They should develop a CANDU attitude.

Part of the problem is that our supply actually exceeds our demand, and we have fixed 20 year contracts in place with private companies that state that we pay for the energy produced, not the energy used.

Well, that was a bad idea...

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293 points · 6 months ago

Mirrors

Used to be an investment or a major purchase

I recently heard that people used to have to use silver for the reflective backing off mirrors, making them very expensive. Also explained why vampires couldn't see their reflections in a mirror.

Huh, never thought of the vampire thing.

A lot of mirrors still use silver. It's just a layer that is only a few atoms thick that's chemically bonded to the glass.

71 points · 6 months ago

an investment? like you would make your money back?

385 points · 6 months ago

Wealthy man from last centrury always had two things: a mirror and a rented pineapple

That way he could have 2 pineapples, lucky man.

What you really need is 2 smaller mirrors facing each other with the pineapple in the middle. Boom loads of pineapples!

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See, now it's an investment. Effectively doubled your pineapples.

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Chickens, and eggs.

Chickens only used to lay 80/120 eggs a year.

Their meat was only eaten on very special occasions.

Most of them died during winter because they can't deal with no vitamin D, it's discovery led to a huge revolution.

From super fancy food, to the very cheapest.

My girls never had a vitamin D problem.

The thing is that making the eggshells suck the calcium out of the birds' bones so they need extra calcium.

A Leghorn in her laying prime can lay one egg every day for 6 days for 2 years. I'm not mathing so youze can figure it out. ;) After that she slows down.

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My grandma used to tell me that when she grew up, chicken was what you had for Sunday dinner.

Although maybe she was just wanting me to feel grateful because when I was a kid she's serve steak for Sunday dinner.

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Refined Sugar.

A couple hundred years ago it was a luxury only available to the rich, Now over a hundred million tons are produced each year and it is so cheap it is sometimes used to bulk out cheap foods to make them cheaper.

Thanks to beet sugar.

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795 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

The color purple/indigo.

Have you ever heard that purple is a royal color? That is because before cheap artificial dyes became available, thousands of [mollusks] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muricidae#Historical_value) would have to be collected, pulverized and processed to create just a gram of purple dye, a process which only royalty/very wealthy could afford.

234 points · 6 months ago

Purple and indigo aren't the same thing.

You're right about Tyrian purple being expensive, but indigo, which can be made from several plants, was pretty cheap. Woad indigo has been used as a blue pigment for a couple thousand years at least.

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You mean purple/violet?

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In the same vein as memory/storage, USB sticks. 5, 10, 15GB USB sticks are basically given away now when they used to be wildly expensive.

I remember buying a 128MB memory stick for about $150

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377 points · 6 months ago

A day laborer today in developed countries can enjoy luxuries that only kings and queens could expect just a few hundred years ago, as well as some things that are everyday and boring to us, but that rulers would literally have waged wars to gain access to.

I used to do day labor to fill in between full time and regular work when I was younger. Get up before the sun was up. Go somewhere I was told to. Pick up rocks or bricks or wood or dirt and move them somewhere else until the middle of the day. Take a short break. Usually get given a box lunch. Do the same thing for a few more hours after the break. Get paid.

Same thing people have been doing for thousands and thousands of years. Some differences though. Safety, clean water, and the amount of pay and what it could buy. This was years ago when I did it, but after the labor company fee and taxes, I'd normally get about $80 for a day.

What could I get for that? A hotel room that could be cold in the summer and hot in the winter. That had both entertainment and news from around the world. Hot and cold clean running water. Flush toilets. Shampoos and soaps and toothpaste and floss provided with it. A device I could use to instantly communicate with people anywhere in the world, and enough money left over to use it.

Even after all that, I could afford to buy sweets or pastries from around the world. Fish from hundreds of miles away. Fresh fruits and vegetables no matter what the season was.

I could buy books. Multiple books! Just with leftover change.

Even something so mundane to us now...if I had a normal, simple headache or stomach ache or heartburn I could cure it cheaply and reliably in minutes without worrying about poisoning myself.

116 points · 6 months ago

the average modern newspaper contains more facts than the average person in shakesperes time would be exposed to in their entire lives.

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Air conditioning is the craziest thing. Our real estate market actually has 1860s estate style houses for $200-300k. Talking an acre, and a 4,000 sq ft house.

Unfortunately, you have to give up air conditioning, use radiator heat, your garage is a detached converted carriage house, your kitchen is semi-outdoors and your bathrooms are converted bedrooms and like 20 by 20.

56 points · 6 months ago

One cool thing (not sure if pun intended) about these older houses (and about older construction in general), is how they were designed to not have air conditioning. Started to see a big revival in some of those tricks around the world to save energy costs.

Anyway, it's not like they compare to a place with good, full climate control, but it's amazing the difference you can feel without anything turned on.

Lived in a house for a while that my family built before A/C was prevalent in the US southeast. Open the windows upstairs and on the main floor...and between ceiling height, construction materials and layout, it would stay amazingly cool compared to outside during summer. Shut the upstairs door and the fireplace would heat the downstairs well when needed.

Agreed on your points though. It's crazy how much modern conveniences and expectations don't fit into houses 100+ years ago. The layouts are just wrong and you're going to face a fortune in updating them (if it's even allowed).

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372 points · 6 months ago

Video calling, especially international video calls which, historically, would have required dedicated satelllite access. Now I just hit FaceTime or Skype and video calls are essentially free along with what i pay for my chosen phone and ISP.

Regular long-distance calls, too. It used to cost 20 cents a minute to call someone in the next town over.

In a city like New York you might have to pay long distance to call another borough, whereas in Idaho you could probably call within several counties. If it didn't have the same area code (first three digits of phone number in US) you had to pay extra and per minute.

Come to think of it, why do companies still pay for toll free number if nobody pays for long distance???

So you can call them for free from a payphone, of course.

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Once upon a time, video calling was considered sci-fi tripe for the distant future.

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Books. I seem to remember my history professor saying that before printing, books could cost about as much as a house

I don't think people understand why:

  • The pages were made from parchment, which was a thinly-cut and cured animal skin. Pages couldn't always be square (since cows aren't giant blocks), and would often have giant holes in them as a result of botfly larva. These pages weren't trashed, though, they were just sold for lower-end books.

  • Ink cost an arm and a leg, with black and red being the only truly affordable ones. The ink could smudge long after it had dried, which we know because people would often rub out the face of Satan in biblical texts.

  • Every page, EVERY LAST PAGE, had to be hand-written by a monk. Those guys couldn't write fast, either, they had to make sure the letters were neat and tidy.

  • When that monk (or two or three monks) finally finished, the book would be handed over to another guy to be bound, so more labor.

  • String probably didn't cost a whole lot, but book covers were made with two slats of wood. The nicer the book, the nicer the wood. The nicer the wood, the nicer the carvings in the wood. This shit wasn't easy.

On top of all of that, for really nice Bibles (which, I must add, were 66-67 separate books), they would add entire pages of nothing but hyper-detailed, incredibly intricate, VERY EXPENSIVE drawings. Each little leaf in that picture is probably only a millimeter or two in length.

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Before the printing PRESS, yes.

This! I came here just to say that ...it boggles the mind how it's now literally everywhere and we throw away a lot of in disposable forms.

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184 points · 6 months ago

Microwaves. Things used to be over a $1000 in the 70's. That's like $1500 today. Now you can buy a small one for $25 at home Depot

I was gonna say this. I think ours was a couple of thousand dollars in the mid/late 70's. BUT it came with a cook book. LOL

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58 points · 6 months ago

It's more like $6000 today if it was $1000 in 1970 (USD)

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In post soviet countries - automobiles. Used to be you would wait in line for years (even decades) for a chance to buy a car, and it was expensive as FUUUUUUUUUUCK and was a piece of shit that wouldn't start in the cold without a shaman drum and sacrificial ritual, would break down easily, was underpowered, had no commodities like heat or power steering/brakes and so on. Now you can just buy a used car for €500 and it'll be light years ahead of anything offered by AvtoVaz in soviet times.

you would wait in line for years (even decades)

And then you ask morning or afternoon of the date they give you.
The dealer says it's years away what difference can it make?
The plumber's coming in the morning.

Ooh, are we posting Eastern Bloc jokes now?

One day, a man was running through Red Square yelling "Khrushchev is a pig, Khrushchev is a pig!" He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison: five for insulting the leader, twenty for revealing state secrets.

Subscribe

Three factory workers are arrested by the KGB and are sitting in the back of a van on the way to prison. Eventually, they all start talking about what they did to earn their fate.
The first one says, "I always showed up five minutes early for work, so the KGB accused me of being an American spy."
The second says, "I always showed up five minutes late for work, so the KGB accused me of being an American saboteur."
The third says, "I always showed up on time for work, so the KGB accused me of having an American watch."

Comrade Khrushchev was photographed at a pig farm by a Pravda journalist. The editors went back and forth over what to caption it; one by one, suggestions like "Comrade Khrushchev among pigs" and "pigs surrounding Comrade Khrushchev" were rejected. Eventually, the editors settled on this:

"Comrade Khrushchev: third from left."

Comrade Khrushchev toured a collective stockyard, where the workers showed him their latest equipment: a machine so advanced that it could butcher a dead hog and turn it into sausages ready for smoking in a matter of seconds. Khrushchev thought it was a marvelous invention, and he japed, "Ah, but is there a machine where one can put a sausage in and a hog comes out?"

"But Comrade Khrushchev," one of the workers replied, "only your parents can do that!"

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I've heard Russia actually was kept purposely ignorant of how easy it was to get a car in the west. They would only show movies from the west that portrayed the US or capitalism in a bad light, and so one such movie was The Grapes of Wrath. Since it was about the Great Depression, the USSR thought it would be good propaganda, until people started asking why a family that was considered dirt poor still had a car to drive. So they scrapped it.

It's the same in North Korea. They used to take South Korean news clips out of context to show off how shit it was, showing things like riots, police brutality, statistics like unemployment, suicide, people complaining about losing their jobs and home etc.

Until people apparently noticed that everything looked better. Why were those people taller and healthier weight? Why did everyone have a car? Why did their apartment buildings look nicer on the outside? Why were they wearing more colourful clothes? Why were they apparently criticising their government?

There wasn't much the state censors could manage, so they cut back on that line of propaganda unless it could be carefully managed. There was footage of Roo Moo Hyun visiting Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang - the broadcast seen in the North showed the two men talking with patriotic music over the top, voices muted. The broadcast in the South had none of that and you could hear both men's voices talking about... sport and the best way to consume cold noodles.

Reminds me of the story of the NK defector who left after seeing expiration dates on cans of donated food. She realized that food in other countries had the possibility of going bad before it was eaten, which meant the people weren’t starving.

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25 points · 6 months ago

I always liked the story about the Soviets visiting the US in the 80's. They were absolutely blown away by the concept of a supermarket, and could never imagine having so many options for food, and even competing brands among the same option. It was more luxurious than even their top government officials had access to.

We had a student exchange program at my high school (this was in the 80s). We had a few students from USSR come visit. One fellow stayed with one of my friends who was studying Russian, so we got to squire him around town. We stopped at an AM/PM minimart when we got gas (these are tiny markets attached to Arco gas stations - like a miniature 7-11). He could not BELIEVE how well-stocked it was, and we had to explain that it was not a full-blown grocery store. He took pictures of everything, even of feminine products (he said my mom and sister would be so happy).

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Cell phones

Until sometime around 2008

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138 points · 6 months ago

Agatha Christie: "I never thought I would be so poor as to not have live-in staff, or so rich as to have a car and driver"

Sorry, my brain's not working tonight. Can you explain what this means?

Back in the early 1900s it was incredibly cheap to have a maid, nanny, and other domestic servants (and therefore many middle-class families had them), but before the Model T cars were hand-built and therefore only accessible to the extremely rich.

Is that why in 101 Dalmatians, the dude has a housekeeper despite living in what is essentially a small London bachelor pad?

Yep, exactly!

I assume that when she was writing, having staff was cheap (compared to today) while technology like cars was very expensive (compared to today).

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Chocolate. When it first arrived to Europe it was only consumed by royals and members of royal court.

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Salt

This is because the supply of salt has drastically increased thanks to the creation of Reddit.

Global salt prices have plummeted to dramatically low points since LoL was released.

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The word salary actually comes from the practice of paying people in salt

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Hot running water in more or less unlimited quantities.

Indoor plumbing.

Clean drinking water.

Ice.

Roll of toilet paper (waaayyyy better than a Sears catalog!)

21 points · 6 months ago

Depends on the toilet paper (fuck you single ply shiny crap).

16 points · 6 months ago

That's not toilet paper, it's cheap super fine grit sandpaper.

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Ice.

Everyone has always gotten the same amount of ice. The rich got it in the summer, the poor got it in the winter.

9 points · 6 months ago

Not in places where it doesn't snow.

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32 points · 6 months ago

Laser pointers... during middle school in rhe late 90's they were marketed for the modern executive, kept in a glass display case, and cost $200! A couple weeks ago I bought one in the cat food aisle of the grocery store to play with my cat, for 2 bucks!

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Minor Plastic surgery is becoming more accessible to people, like lips fillers and botox might only set you back 100-150 bucks.

$50 if you don't mind the liquid silicone embolisms...

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Aluminum. It used to be very hard to extract, and that’s why the tip of the Washington monument is made of aluminum. Then a new method was created which made it super easy, and now it’s an everyday metal.

The first industrial process for making aluminium was developed in 1859, which dropped the price of aluminium from $500 per pound to $40 (1859 dollars)

the monument capstone was the largest piece of aluminium ever cast when it was made in 1884.

the modern process for Aluminium production was discovered in 1886 simultaneously by two different guys. one of them, Charles Martin Hall, opened his first industrial Aluminium production facility in 1888. His company became the Aluminium Company of America - Alcoa.

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Ice and/or refrigeration. Ever since visiting the Biltmore in Asheville, I have found the former luxury of refrigeration fascinating :D

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VCRs. Used to be over $1000 in Australia when they came out. Even the tapes were ridiculously expensive at first.

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151 points · 6 months ago

Air Travel.

Good in a way, but it kind of went too far in a race to the bottom . Charging people extra to check a bag in, to reserve a seat, for a meal etc is pathetic.

Hate on airlines all you want, but the people vote with their money and they decided all they care about is getting the cheapest ticket.

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This race to the bottom just got me from england-berlin-milan for £19 so I'm not complaining!

Yep, a round-trip plane ticket from NYC to Zurich just cost me $350. Fine with meee

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Lobster.

Went from being prison food (granted, it was prepared entirely differently), to being the height of bourgeois cuisine, to being Red Lobster's deal of the day and on the menu of Long John Silver.

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Those huge solid wood entertainment centers from the 80's/90's. I remember my neighbor growing up spent a few thousand dollars on one and wouldn't shut up about it. They're ALL over the free section on craigslist because no one wants to move them lol

That and you can't fit your $350 55" LCD TV in there...

A good electric guitar

28 points · 6 months ago

well they got cheaper but they are still expensive if you ask me (if we speak about the quality ones of course)

I don't know, you can pick up a great guitar for around $200

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Gretsch. Best value ever.

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A hot bath.

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Entertainment Centers. They used to costs hundreds or thousands. Now people are giving them away on Craigslist.

Coffee beans. Back in the day you could've been mugged and even killed if you were found owning even one bean. Now you can get a free sample in many places.

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Comment deleted6 months ago(2 children)

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14 points · 6 months ago

Cell phone Internet, back in the days before smartphones

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The video camera. Before: Cam unit, separate lens unit, separate recording unit attached via thick cable, microphone and cable attached to recorder all plugged into 110/220 volts. Now: Cell phone

Any kind of fresh not in season fruit or vegetable. If it wasn’t growing locally it was a great expense to ship it and difficult or impossible to get it.

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Phones with good quality cameras. Recently picked up a $45 ZTE ultra cheapo phone and was surprised at how good quality the camera was. Then I realized that that's what the lowest quality camera looks like in 2018. It would have been a $400 camera in 2010, but it's considered the cheap kind of camera now.

15 points · 6 months ago

FPV flying has gotten insanely affordable within my lifetime, you can buy a small wireless camera with built in receiver for $16 on amazon now. Electronic components in general more diy friendly.

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I remember when I was a kid early 90s my dad bought a computer for 5 thousand dollars. They were crap back then also. Now you can get a great comp for dirt cheap

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Gelatin.

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