We all benefit these days from the economics of a free market that allows the inventions of entrepreneurs to be manufactured at a small cost so all of us can enjoy them. We may not understand some of the complex economic issues around us, but we can see their impact in the prices we pay for sophisticated technology.
John Tamny gives some great examples in his book, Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics. He talks about a conference he attended where one the speakers displayed a 1989 ad for the Tandy 5000 desktop. The ad proclaimed that it was the “most powerful computer ever!” Monitor and mouse were not included in the $8,499 price.
The computer you have today is far faster and more efficient than one of the best computers on the marker a quarter century ago. You can buy a Dell laptop computer for less the $400 that has a Quad-Core processor, 8 GB of memory, and a hard drive with 1 TB of storage.
The original hand-held cellular phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. If you have never seen one, you might rent the 1987 Oliver Stone film, Wall Street. I would imagine you would laugh when you see Gordon Gekko pull out this “brick of a phone” to make a phone call. The 1983 price for this technological wonder of the day was $3,995. Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone and expects to pay less than $250 and sometimes less than $200 for a phone that does much more than make phone calls.
We benefit from the inventions of entrepreneurs, but we also benefit from the manufacturing efficiencies of a free market that put these devices in our hands for a fraction of their original cost.