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Were You Better Off Buying Dell than Apple 23 Years Ago?

Madonna in 1989
Larry Busacca | WireImage | Getty Images
Madonna in 1989

We may still be listening to Madonna today – who topped the charts with “Like a Prayer” in 1989 – but time has not stood still for your money.

Since CNBC first went live 23 years ago back on April 17, 1989, it has paid to be in the stock market.

Back then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 2,338 as blue chips continued their march toward recovering losses from the 1987 crash. IBM traded at around $28 a share. The S&P 500 was at 302. The Nasdaq finished on that day in 1989 at 418, while Apple stock languished at around $10 a share.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Today, the Dow tops 13,000 – up 458 percent since April 17, 1989; the S&P 500 is just under 1400 – up 360 percent since then; while the Nasdaq trades at 3,000 – up 625 percent over that time.

Over the last 23 years, the best performing stock among the current S&P 500 constituents is EMC, with a gain of 36,563 percent.

Apple,however, did not make it the top five (the stock is up 6,009 percent in the past 23 years), compared to a 20,375 percent return for Dell .


To the downside, American International Group, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, SUPERVALU, Tenet Healthcare and Frontier Communications are all down more than 40 percent, respectively.

It’s also worth noting that while U.S. stocks have rocketed higher in the 23 years since CNBC launched, the Dow and S&P 500 are still about 8 percent and 11 percent away, respectively, from their the all-time highs of October 2007. The Nasdaq has much more ground to make up. It’s still about 40 percent away from the record highs set back in March of 2000.


bythenumbers.cnbc.com