As anyone who’s stood within earshot of me for more than 45 seconds can tell you, I tend to be supremely annoyed by “when I was your age” anecdotes about how much things used to cost, particularly when people use nominal dollars instead of real dollars. Since I’ve seen half a dozen instances of this stupid image over the past couple of days, and I expect to see it about a billion more times as the new year approaches, I thought I’d fix a few things.

While most of the figures on this page seem spurious at best, I went for the low-hanging fruit and just adjusted the prices for inflation to give some context. Feel free to contact me with correct data (sourced, of course) and I’ll be happy to update this internet nonsense.

For what it’s worth, I found it vaguely interesting that Mechanical Engineers make a lot less now than they did way-back-when, but I’m sure there are a butt-ton more engineers competing in the marketplace these days. And dentists make a lot more, which makes sense considering high-tech dental equipment in 1915 consisted largely of a shot of whiskey from a dirty glass and a length of twine attached to a horse.

Also, after a century, sugar is still about $1 a pound, except now I can clickity-click and have it delivered to my frigging front door in less than an hour by a beardo in a Prius. Now that’s what I call progress.

P.S. See edits below image…


Edits as of 29 Dec 2015:

  1. Life expectancy in 1915 was 54.7 years
  2. The first fuel filling stations popped up in 1906-1907
  3. By 1915 approximately 30% of homes had telephones
  4. The US flag had 48 stars as of 1912
  5. As of the 1910 US Census, the population of Las Vegas was already 937
  6. The earliest forms of crossword puzzles date back to the 1790s
  7. Iced tea dates back to the 1870s
  8. The high school graduation rate in 1915 was approximately 15%
  9. The homicide rate in 1915 was 5.9 per 100,000 residents. With a US population of 105 million, that works out to about 6,195 murders