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When was it most expensive? A deeper look

30th October 2018


As times have changed, prices of many items have fluctuated dramatically. Although some products are cheaper than they have ever been before thanks to advancements in mass-production and product sourcing, there are also many aspects of life that are more expensive than ever. With areas like housing suddenly proving to be incredibly expensive, it’s hard to know exactly where we stand when looking back over the recent past.

The Generation Game: When was it most expensive?’ is a quiz aimed at showing people how times have changed, the effects of inflation, and the price history of some of the country’s most iconic items. From a train ticket to a pint of Guinness, many of the answers are surprising.

This article aims to look into some of the research done when making this quiz, and what the findings mean. It will also look at the answers and examine whether the public is aware of how prices have changed throughout the years.

For anyone who didn’t get a chance to play the quiz, you can find it below to try before reading on.



Research and findings

When was a McDonald’s Cheeseburger most expensive?


McDonald’s is, of course, one of the most iconic fast-food options in human history, with its cheeseburgers, in particular, being enjoyed across the decades. No matter when you were born, there is a chance that you have fond memories of McDonald’s, and so might your parents and grandparents!

Like with most things, however, the price of a McDonald’s cheeseburger has changed over time, as one might expect, but it was fascinating to learn that a cheeseburger in the 1960s (£4.22 adjusting for inflation) cost nearly four times what it does in 2018! While McDonald’s cheeseburgers have actually become cheaper over the years, a cheeseburger is actually a fraction more expensive than it was in the year 2000, costing 11p more.

So, while we might expect McDonald’s to continue to become cheaper in another 20 years, you can never tell for sure. It’s a safe bet, however, that families and friends will still be looking forward to their beloved McDonald’s excursions.

When was a TV most expensive?


TVs have been the centre of family homes for generations, with the sets themselves evolving dramatically over the years. Once the TV was a very modest addition to living rooms around the world, providing families with access to a select few channels. Today, however, televisions are a radically different proposition. In 2018, TVs are often gigantic pieces of tech, dominating the room, allowing viewers to access endless entertainment options, both live and on-demand – some are even connected to the internet!

Considering all that a TV is now capable of, one might imagine that in the present day, TVs would be more expensive in real money than ever before. This is not the case, however, as TVs are actually now cheaper than they have been compared to the 2000s, 1980s, and 1960s when adjusting for inflation. In fact, TVs have gotten cheaper over each time period, with 1960 being the most expensive of the time periods we looked at, coming in $289 (or £2,304 in today’s money).

When was an album most expensive?


We all have our favourite albums, those records that we look back on with fond memories, perhaps for nostalgic reasons, playing them over and over again, and finding new meaning in the music at different points in our life. No matter your age – teenager, young adult, or stairlift user, there’s a good chance there’s an album that has such a meaning for you. Perhaps you even remember the first album you ever bought!

Depending on how old you are, the price you paid will have changed quite dramatically. Back in 1960, for example, an LP cost £1.50, which is a whopping £33.30 when adjusting for inflation! In today’s money an LP in 1960 was more expensive than a cassette in 1980 (£30), a CD in the year 2000 (£21.43), and a considerably more than a digital download of an album in 2018 (£9.99). Buying an album has never been cheaper in relative terms.

When were personal music players most expensive?


Personal music players have evolved a lot over the past 60 years, from transistor radios that would have set you back £18.90 (which is now equivalent to £419) in the 60s to iPods and digital music players today.

Earlier versions of personal music players, like the 1980s Walkman, would have allowed you to play a limited number of tracks, however, modern versions allow you to have every song in the world at your fingertips. Regardless of this, the price stays low thanks to the mass production of this kind of technology, whereas earlier iterations would have been much more in demand and produced in much lower quantities.

These changes have been vast, and there are even more rapid advancements being made currently with the introduction of wireless headphones and Bluetooth, it’ll be interesting to see how this technology continues to advance in the next 60 years.

When was a pint of Guinness most expensive?


Heading to your local pub and enjoying a delicious pint of your favourite beer has been a staple of British life for eons, whether nipping down the local after work, when enjoying a Sunday lunch, or when watching the football with friends on Saturday afternoon, it boggles the mind to think how many pints of have been consumed over the years. Guinness is, of course, a beloved favourite, still incredibly popular to this day after being introduced in 1759. But when it comes to the 60s, 80s, 2000s, and the present day, when do you think a pint of the Irish favourite was most the expensive?

It certainly wasn’t 1960, which, it turns out, was the cheapest out of these decades to buy a pint, costing just £1.78 in today’s money. It was a whole pound more expensive in 1980 but a pint of Guinness was actually the most costly in 2000, setting drinkers back £3.30 when adjusting for inflation. The price of a pint has actually gone back down today, being 15p cheaper in real money than 18 years ago.

When was a Mini most expensive?


The Mini is the quintessential British car, a wonderful symbol for the country and still much beloved by a plethora of drivers today. The models may have changed over time and surely each generation has their favourite ever mini design, but the car hasn’t lost any of its allure, as is demonstrated by the ever-popular ‘Mini meets’ that still take place.

But when was the most expensive time (60s, 80s, 2000s, or present) to buy this car, adjusting for inflation? Has more efficient manufacturing or more cheaply sourced components brought costs down over time? Not exactly. For whatever reason, Minis are currently more expensive than they have ever been, coming in at £15,000, which is up just a hair from 2000 when a mini cost £8,995 (or £14,841 in today’s money). Minis did get cheaper from 1960 to 1980 in relative terms, dropping quite significantly from £11,100 to £4,732. Will Minis become cheaper again in the future? It’s hard to say with so many factors such as trade, tariffs, and the rules of supply and demand being at play.

When was a phone most expensive?


Phones are such an essential part of our lives in the present day and funnily enough, have become important to us as the devices have moved further away from the actual function for which they are intended – making a phone call. We do so much more with our phones these days than actually placing calls, such as texting, internet searching, taking pictures and videos, and myriad other fun and interesting activities. So, logic might indicate that in 2018, phones should be more expensive than ever!

When looking at the figures, however, this is certainly not the case. An iPhone in 2018 costs £999 for the handset, while this is more expensive than in 2000 for a Nokia 3310 (£214.50 adjusting for inflation), in 1980 those classic massive phones (Motorola 8000X) cost buyers of the day a massive £3,000 and that’s without adjusting for inflation! In today’s money, these phones would cost £14,460. Not exactly affordable for your average consumer.

When was a train journey from London to Heathrow most expensive?


Brits have been making the journey to Heathrow for decades, with generations of travellers heading to the world-famous airport to begin their holidays or fly for business. Hopping on the train from a London destination to Heathrow is a journey that millions are familiar with, but how does the price of a ticket today compare to that of the past?

Because of so many more people now making their way to the airport thanks to more affordable plane tickets and the advancement in railway technology, the cost of a train journey has, of course, changed. In 1980, for example, a ticket would set travellers back £1.80 (which equates to £8.68 when adjusting for inflation), meaning that it is cheaper to travel to Heathrow today than it was nearly four decades ago. However, tickets were more expensive in 1960, even though the price of a ticket cost only 80p, this actually now translates to more than £17! All of which makes travelling from London terminals to Heathrow a much more enticing prospect in 2018 than in decades past.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.