You’ll Never Guess How Much An iPhone Would Have Cost In 1991

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The capabilities of today’s are so incredible, a few weeks ago we came across a 20-year old RadioShack ad and everything you could buy  has already been made obsolete by the iPhone. Still, the iPhone’s powers are so much greater than those products it doesn’t do justice to compare it to a $29.99 speed dial phone, so Bret Swanson at Tech Policy Daily decided to find out how much an iPhone would really cost in 1991.

Swanson’s back-of-the-envelope math estimates it would have cost Apple over $3 million to make a machine with comparable powers to the iPhone back in 1991, and that’s only counting some of the hardware.

In his breakdown, Swanson says a chip like the A7 with enough power to process 20,500 MIPS (millions of instructions per second) would have come with a $620,000 pricetag in ’91, but the most expensive technology would be the iPhone’s wicked fast LTE connection of 15Mbps.

“Considering only memory, processing, and broadband communications power, duplicating the iPhone back in 1991 would have (very roughly) cost: $1.44 million + $620,000 + $1.5 million = $3.56 million.”

  • 20,500 MIPS Processor – $620,000
  • 32GB Flash Memory – $1.44 million
  • 15 Mbps data connection – $1.5 million

Of course that doesn’t take into account things like the Touch ID sensor, M7 processor, touch screen, camera, iOS, or the fact that the technology to manufacture those components wasn’t around. In reality, the price tag of an iPhone in 1991 would have been much much higher than just $3.56 million, but it’s fun to speculate.

For a full breakdown on why each component would have cost so much check out Swanson’s full article.

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About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Social Media Editor. Hailing from Roswell, New Mexico, but now spending his days in Phoenix, Arizona, he wastes most of his time eating burritos and reading Spanish romance novels. Twitter: @bst3r.

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