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The Apple I and the iPad

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 19, 2012    •    720 Views

Steve Jobs had been pruning Gravenstein apple trees at the All One Farm and was on one of his “fruitarian diets” when he and Steve Wozniak tried to figure out a name for their new firm. Rejecting Matrix, Executek and Personal Computers Inc., Jobs explained to Walter Isaacson that Apple, “…sounded fun…” and “would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book.”

In 1976, their first computer, the Apple I, was sold for $666.66 and cost them approximately $220 to make in the Jobs’s garage.

Retailing for $629 (16GB), the new iPad 4G’s components cost $309.

According to the BLS Inflation Calculator, $666.66 in 1976 has the same buying power as $2667.38 today.

The Economic Lesson

It is tough to quantify job creation in the U.S. but Apple recently tried.  With 47,000 employees, Apple says it has “created or supported” a total of 514,000 jobs (components makers, UPS drivers, apps developers, glass and plane makers…you see). One Harvard professor summarized the debate surrounding the specific numbers by saying, “Apple has a big effect and big is about as precise as I can make it.”

Similarly, economists continue to debate the jobs impact of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

An Economic Question: Why might it be difficult to figure out how many new jobs a firm or a government program has created?

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