Peter Diamandes writes a few fun facts about what life was like in 1917 compared with what life is like today. Here's a sampling:
1. World Literacy Rates
- 1917: The world literacy rate was only 23%.
- Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1%.
2. Travel Time
- 1917: It took 5 days to get from London to New York; 3.5 months to travel from London to Australia.
- Today: A nonstop flight gets you from London to New York in a little over 8 hours, and you can fly from London to Australia in about a day, with just one stop.
3. Average Price of a U.S. House
- 1917: The average price of a U.S. house was $5,000. ($111,584.29 when adjusted for inflation)
- Today: As of 2010, the average price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $272,900.
4. Average Price of a Car in the U.S.
- 1917: The average price of a car in the U.S. was $400 ($8,926.74 when adjusted for inflation)
- Today: The average car price in the U.S. was $34,968 as of January 2017.
5. Average U.S. Wages
- 1917: The average U.S. hourly wage was 22 cents an hour ($4.90 per hour when adjusted for inflation)
- Today: The average U.S. hourly wage is approximately $26 per hour.
- 1917: The first "super" market, PigglyWiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, TN.
- Today: In 2015, there were 38,015 supermarkets, employing 3.4 million people and generating sales of about $650 billion.
- 1917: John D. Rockefeller became the world's first billionaire on September 29.
- Today: There are approximately 1,810 billionaires, and their aggregate net worth is $6.5 trillion.
For context, Rockefeller’s net worth in today’s dollars would have been about $340 billion. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is worth $84 billion today.
8. Telephones (Landlines vs. Cellphones)
- 1917: Only 8% of homes had a landline telephone.
- Today: Forget landlines! In the U.S., nearly 80% of the population has a smartphone (a supercomputer in their pockets). Nearly half of all American households now use only cellphones rather than older landlines. And as far as cost, today, you can Skype anywhere in the world for free over a WiFi network.
9. US Population
- 1917: The U.S. population broke 100 million, and the global population reached 1.9 billion.
- Today: The U.S. population is 320 million, and the global population broke 7.5 billion this year.
10. Inventions and Technology
- 1917: The major tech invention in 1917? The toggle light switch.
- Today: The major tech invention of today? CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, which enables us to reprogram life as we know it. And we are making strides in AI, robotics, sensors, networks, synthetic biology, materials science, space exploration and more every day.
11. High School Graduation Rates
- 1917: Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.
- Today: Over 80% of all Americans graduated high school this past year.
What do you think literacy rates, travel times, the average price of goods and services, or the state of technology will be in 100 years?
Think about this. We look at science and society 100 years ago and think how silly it all seems. What do you think society in 100 years will think of today's science and social trends?