Here’s a list that will make you proud of your $200 Chromebook! Or at least happy that you never paid these kinds of prices. When you talk about expensive personal computers, they fall into two categories. First, there’s the luxury models designed with bling for conspicuous consumption. Sure, you can impress people with a gold-plated laptop, but why? Then there are the innovations of the past. An entirely new way to compute was never cheap, and certain models had a lot of research and development to cover, even though they seem archaic now. For context, when I was in college in the ‘70s, the school only had one computer, and you weren’t allowed to see it unless you were taking a computer class. There were three offered: BASIC, COBOL, and FORTRAN. But you could buy a personal computer -if you had the bucks. This one cost twice as much as my degree.
5. 1975 IBM Portable Computer – $19,975
If you’re looking at the price and wondering what type of incredible technology existed back in the mid-70s to warrant such an expensive price tag, know that the 1975 IBM Portable Computer cost what it did because it was the first “mini computer”. It wasn’t as portable as notebooks are today, but it was aimed at the scientific community, specifically researchers flush with grant money.
The self contained computer had a magnetic tape drive, 5 inch CRT display that could output 16 lines of text with 64 characters each, a cartridge tape hard drive capable of storing 204 KB, and a PALM circuit board processor. If you adjust its 1975 retail price for inflation, the IBM 5100 portable computer would cost about $88,000.
There are nine other rather expensive computers to see at Money Inc.