The end of the year is often a time for people to exchange presents and — of course — the rich want to buy each other the best presents. The Neiman Marcus company was famous for having a catalog of gift ideas. Many were what you’d consider normal gifts, but there were usually extreme ones, like a tank trunk filled with 100,000 gallons of cologne. One year, the strange gift was an authentic Chinese junk complete with sails and teak decks. They apparently sold three at $11,500 (in 1962 money, no less). Over the top? In 1969, they featured a kitchen computer.
Wait a minute! In 1969, computers were the purview of big companies, universities, and NASA, right? Well, not really. By that time, some industrial minicomputers were not millions of dollars but were still many thousands of dollars. The price in the catalog for the kitchen computer was $10,600. That’s about $86,000 in today’s money. The actual machine was a Honeywell 316, based on one of the computers that helped run the early Internet.