People

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Archive

Then & Now

Posted on

BRACES

1974

$2,900-$3,500

Vital orthodontic treatment or sadistic adolescent initiation ritual?

2004

$4,500-$5,500

Hidden behind, models show nothing but the tooth.

BETAMAX/TIVO

1975

$2,295

Despite its excellent video quality, nobody did it Beta.

1999

$149-$349

Good news: You’ll never miss American Idol. Bad news: You’ll never miss American Idol.

A CAT (STEVENS) TO A (SNOOP) DOGG

1974

$7.98

Album sales were ruled by sappy songs from John Denver, the Carpenters and Cat Stevens.

2004

$14.99 CDs

by gritty rappers, like Snoop Dogg, dominate.

PORTABLE COMPUTER

1981

$1,795

Only 24 lbs. Forget R.S.I.—what about that hernia?

2004

$1,200-$2,500

Now you can easily take the office with you, which is good because…?

Things We Couldn’t Do Without

The Heimlich maneuver-1974

Online ATMs-1974

Self-adhesive postage stamps-1974

Video games-1974

Light beer-1975

Sports bras-1977

Angioplasty-1977

In vitro fertilization-1978

24-hour cable news-1980

Post-its-1980

Rollerblades-1980

Polar fleece-1981

Laptops-1981

CDS-1983

Cell phones-1983

Twist-top beer bottles-1984

Cupholders in cars-1984

Flip-top toothpaste-1984

The universal remote-1985

Energy bars-1986

AZT-1987

Prozac-1987

Carry-on luggage on wheels-1989

Cheap manicures-1980s

World Wide Web-1991

Electronic ticketing-1992

The George Foreman grill-1995

Viagra-1998

MP3S-1998

8-TRACK PLAYER/ IPOD

1974

$20-$300

One 8-track tape could hold an entire Elton John album!

2004

$249-$499

One 40-GB iPod can hold 10,000 songs.

SELF-TANNING

1974

$3.95

Reflectors provided even more harmful UV rays.

2004

$6.95-$50

Whether it’s from a bottle, spray booth or bronzer, it’s melanoma-no-more!

COFFEE

1974

25¢-50¢

Milk? Sugar? Can it be that it was all so simple then?

2004 $2-$5 Now, “Make mine a half-caf grandé skim caramel macchiato with whipped cream” is just one of the 19,000 ways (yep, they counted) you can order a coffee at Starbucks.

HAIR STRAIGHTENING

1970s

FREE

Going straight was a chore when the clothes iron was the only option for smoothing out kinks.

2004

$29.95-$175

Pressed for time? With the handheld hair straightener, you’re done in a few minutes flat.

CELL PHONE

1983

$3,995

At 28 oz., the first cells boasted one whole hour of talk time before needing a recharge.

2004

$80-$300

With up to five hours to chat—at a fraction of the size—yes, we can hear you now!

We thought they would change our lives:

IUDs

Concorde

Solar energy

Job sharing

Water beds

The paperless office

Space food

Star Wars

New Coke

Virtual reality

Pump sneakers

Flotation tanks

MiniDisc

“New” New Math

Olestra

Y2K

Dot-com boom

$1 gold coin

Segways

THIS IS PROGRESS?

Spam

Automated voice response systems: “Press 1 for…”

Cell yell

SARS

Car alarms

Shoes off in the airport

Starving in economy class

Crackberries

Hummers