Gadgets for humans

This is how rich you’d be if you bought Apple stock instead of its products

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People don’t usually regret their first bit of exciting hardware. On the contrary, the majority of folks have strong nostalgic feelings about their earliest computer, game console, audio player, or phone.

It’s not that they remind us of how far we’ve come technologically (although that’s true), they’re more reminiscent of our childhood in general, the carefree times before we became serious adults.

For instance, I still have deeply fond feelings about my first Compaq Presario desktop computer, Sony Walkman, JVC dual cassette hi-fi stereo system, and yellow Ericsson flip phone. I’m sure everyone has items like this in their lives.

All this got me thinking. What would it take for us to give up those memories? Money, probably. Lots of it. So… what if instead of buying an old gadget when it was released, we bought the product’s worth in company stock instead? Would that be enough to overcome our nostalgia?

To make this an achievable task, I decided to limit the scope and focus on Apple products, because everyone loves Apple, right?

Don’t weep, but here are the results:

First iPad

When the iPad was released on April 3, 2010, the entry model cost $499. If you used that money to buy Apple stock instead, you’d have $3,000 right now. That’s around a 500 percent profit. I might keep my memories here.

First iPhone

The first iPhone came out on June 29, 2007. Again, it cost $499. If you bought Apple stock instead? You’d be sitting on $5,700. To put it another way, that’s around a 1000 percent profit. Hmm, getting closer, but I probably wouldn’t sell my early App Store experiences for this.

First MacBook

Ah, the humble MacBook. If you bought the base model on its May 16, 2006 release, it would’ve set you back $1,099. If, instead, you used that money to buy Apple stock, you’d have $22,500 worth of it right now. That’s around a 2,000 percent profit. I’m feeling sick.

First Mac Mini


The first Mac Mini was released on January 22, 2005 at the base price of $499. If you bought Apple stock at that moment instead, you’d have $19,700 sitting around. In other words, a 3,900 percent profit. Okay, sign me the hell up, screw my memories.

First iPod

Aww yeah, the iPod! The entry-level model (which came out on October 23, 2001 – god, I’m old) when it was released cost $399. That amount of Apple stock at the iPod’s release would now be worth $58,000. That’s around 14,500 percent in profit. Look, I loved the iPod as much as anyone, but that’s a whole lot of moula.

First iMac

If you didn’t buy the original, base model of the iMac on August 15, 1998 (its release date, if you hadn’t got that) for $1,299, and instead used that money to buy Apple stock you’d have $178,000. And you know what? That’s a 13,500 percent profit. Nothing from childhood is worth that much, surely.

First Macintosh

Finally, the first Macintosh. When this was released on January 24, 1984, the base model cost $2,495. You know how much the imaginary Apple stock you bought that day instead of a Macintosh is worth now? A cool $960,000. That, one and all, is a 38,500 percent in profit! Take my memories, take my organs, hell, take my first-born.

So, there you go – an easy way to feel bad about your childhood life decisions in one simple article.

Would I really sell all my cherished tech memories for cold hard cash? Probably not. Those formative years trained me for my career using digital-based technology – something I’d assume is true for you too.

Still, there’s a lesson in here somewhere. It’s never a bad idea to seriously think about the things you’re buying or investing in, as there might always be a wiser or more lucrative alternative. If you can predict the future, that is.

At least we achieved the impossible here today: we put a price on cherished memories.

(All stock price calculations accurate as of publishing date.)

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Published June 18, 2019 — 15:48 UTC