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Infographic: the changing face and price of technology

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From typewriters to tablets – the changing face and price of technology – Media release

Entertainment options in the home have come a long way from sing-alongs in the 19th century. Today we have flat-panel TV sets, home theatre systems, and tablet computers.

“As our entertainment options have changed over the past 60 years, so have the electronic gadgets tracked in the consumers price index (CPI),” Statistics New Zealand prices manager Chris Pike said.

Radio was first included in New Zealand’s CPI basket of goods and services in 1949. At that time, tuning-in was not cheap. The average price of a radio was about £21, or about $1,460 in today’s terms (September 2012 quarter) after allowing for general inflation. The cost of radio licensing was £1 and 5 shillings annually (about $87 in today’s terms).

Another common type of entertainment technology in most homes is the television. It too has changed a great deal from when it was first introduced to New Zealand in 1960.

“TV became an instant hit with households and by 1965 nearly 315,000 TV sets were licensed in New Zealand,” Mr Pike said.

In 1965, the average price of a 23-inch black-and-white consolette TV set was about £138 ($5,120 in today’s terms) while the cost of an annual TV licence was £6 and 10 shillings a year ($240 today).

Colour TV sets were added to the basket in 1975, at an average retail price of about $840 ($7,950 in today’s terms) for a 26-inch set.

In 2006, flat-panel TV sets with LCD or plasma displays were added to the CPI basket. A 32-inch LCD-display TV retailed at about $2,750. The same size TV in the September 2012 quarter would have cost about $680.

In recent times, leisure activities at home have evolved to include browsing the Internet, exchanging emails, and playing computer games,” Mr Pike said.

Before computers, we used typewriters for writing letters and reports. Typewriters were included in the CPI basket in 1977, when the average price was $175 (about $1,030 today).

Personal computers were added to the CPI in 1988 when the average price of a basic home computer was about $1,290. Five years later the average price for a personal computer had increased to $2,560, but these computers had more features than the home computers of the 1980s.

Our infographic Electronic gadgets in the CPI shows prices at the time gadgets were first tracked in the CPI.

For further information about electronic gadget prices, read the January 2013 issue of the Price Index News.


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