- In 1949, Popular Mechanics made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than one ton. An iPad weighs 0.73 pounds.
- U.S. life expectancy at birth has increased from 39 years in 1800 to 79 years today.
- The average American retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51.
- Despite a surge in airline travel, half as many people died in plane accidents in 2012 as in 1960.
- In 1952, 38,000 people contracted polio in the U.S. In 2012, there were fewer than 300 cases in the entire world.
- Median household income adjusted for inflation is nearly double what it was in the 1950s.
- Crime has fallen dramatically from 1991 to 2010. Rape is down by a third, robbery is down more than half, and there were nearly four million fewer property crimes in 2010 than in 1991. All this while the U.S. population grew by 60 million during this period.
- Almost no homes had a refrigerator in 1900. Today you can get one in a car.
- The average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants.
- High school graduation rates are at a 40-year high.
- The average American work week has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 today.
- Relative to wages, the price of food has dropped 90 percent since the 19th century.
- In 1965, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked; in 2011, 19 percent did.
- The number of Americans with a college degree or higher has risen from five percent in 1940 to more than 30 percent in 2012.
- From 1920 to 1980, an average of 395 people per 100,000 died from famine worldwide each decade. During the 2000s, that number fell to three per 100,000.
- A three-minute phone call from New York City to San Francisco cost $341 in 1915. Today many providers allow you to make such a call for free.
- In 1950, nearly 40 percent of Americans didn't have a telephone. Today there are 500 million Internet-connected devices in the U.S., averaging 5.7 per household.
Publication date: August 11, 2014
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