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Time Warp Computer Prices
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Date 4th August 2004
Author James "Agg" Rolfe

Nineties and Noughties

This article came about because of an ad page in the August 2004 issue of APC Magazine. Page 158 seemed to be a reprint of an ad from July 2001 (200KB pic). APC say it wasn't an error on their part, so I assume it was a clever (and successful) attempt by the vendor to attract more attention to their ad. I found the historical pricing interesting, so asked people to send me, over the next 24 hours, scans of ad pages from the oldest Australian computer magazines they could dig up. Some of the submissions were too hard to read, or too recent, or didn't really have anything interesting in them - but there were enough to put together this article and show how things have changed over the years.

Unfortunately some of the images are quite large (none more than 250KB) in order to keep the text readable. In most cases it's worth the wait! We'll start with the most recent and work backwards to the oldest.

This one from PodgeSSS only dates back to 2000, but $2750 for a 1GHz CPU?? And people say the P4 "Expensive Edition" is excessive.

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1999 doesn't really feel like all that long ago to me. OCAU had just started up and, at these prices, you can see why we all spent a couple of hundred bucks on Celeron 366's and ran them at 550MHz or more, instead of paying $1625 for a P3-500. Do you need P3 now? Most of us didn't, no. :)

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Games are the focus in this one from Liam, from issue 3 (July 1996) of PC PowerPlay mag. I lost a LOT of time to Duke Nukem 3D and SimCity 2000. Interesting that game pricing is about the same now as it was then.

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Two undated ones from Brendan, which I guess to be of about late 1995 vintage. I remember the P90 machines coming into work around then.

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These three from MWP are photos of Just Magazines - Computer Market July 1994. 1MB VLB video cards were the order of the day then. VESA Local Bus was a 32-bit extension to ISA, which ended up being superceded by PCI and then AGP. Note also that the 540MB HDD has hit the $1/MB mark here, but a 28.8Kbps modem for $799 makes my eyes water.

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Enthalpy sent in 2 pages from the January 1994 issue of APC, crowing about the new Pentium P5 CPU from Intel. 60MHz of blistering CPU power - literally, if you've seen some of the cooling solutions they came up with. People could barely stay in the same room as the original Compaq P60 machines we had at work, due to the howling CPU-duct fan. They list $5298 for a "3000MB" SCSI-II drive, but the 4000MB price was too scary to publish, I guess. Interestingly, IDE drives were well above $2/MB in this one.

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This one is from AzzKikr, who says it's from APC January 1993, in their little PC Shopping Section they used to do. It's a big roundup of 486-based systems.

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Decromin blames the BBS story in this 1992 issue of Your Computer magazine for getting him into the BBS scene. At the time, the 486 was the new king:

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All original content copyright James Rolfe.
All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.
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