One example from the 1964 Radio Shack catalog is the “Moderately priced, excellent stereo system” on sale for $379.95 (pictured below). That might not seem too expensive, except when you consider that the average hourly wage in 1964 was only $2.50 (data here). When measured in what is ultimately most important—the “time cost” of goods—that 1964 stereo equipment was actually very, very expensive. At the average hourly wage of $2.50, the typical American in 1964 would have had to work 152 hours (full-time for almost an entire month) to earn enough income (ignoring taxes) to purchase that “moderately priced” stereo system.
To help understand how expensive the 1964 stereo system really was, consider that a typical American today would earn almost $3,000 working 152 hours at the current average hourly wage of $19. Now imagine what you could purchase with a $3,000 budget for today’s electronics products, and you’ll begin to appreciate how fortunate you are today compared to the consumers in previous decades like the 1960s.