Chart of the Day

Chart of the Day: From $400K Macs to $23K iPods


"On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.' "

With those words, Apple unveiled the Mac—a groundbreaking product for both Americans and the tech company—which went on sale 30 years ago today.

This innovation didn't come cheap. Although the Mac was aimed at the mass market, at $2,495, it was still a luxury product, given that the median household income was $22,415, according to Census data.

The high price coupled with Apple's low share price at the time made us wonder: What if instead of grabbing the company's latest, greatest inventions when they debuted, you had bought Apple shares and reinvested subsequent dividends?

The numbers are striking.

The Opportunity Cost of Apple Innovation
ProductCostRelease DateApple StockValue Today% Gain
Mac $2,495 1/24/1984 $3.41 $400,162 15,949%
iPod $399 11/10/2001 $9.36 $22,960 5,744%
iPhone $499 6/29/2007 $122.04 $2,187 348%
iPad $499 4/3/2010 $235.97 $1,093 132%

That first-gen iPod you bought, which likely now collects dust somewhere? If you had invested the same $399 the basic model cost, you would have nearly $23,000 in Apple stock, using the company's midday share price Thursday.

And the Mac? Just north of $400,000.

It's also worth noting that for the sake of simplicity, we excluded tax, which can vary by state, and chose the entry-level models for the iPad and iPhone. Consumers who paid sales taxes or bought upgraded models saw even bigger opportunity costs for being cutting edge.

—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter @KatieLittle