Technological change confers enormous benefits, even for those of us who do not rush out to buy the latest neat new thing. Here’s one example.
I like to grill. I own four barbecue grills and three smokers. We got one smoker as a wedding present, but the rest were bestowed free of charge by the progressive forces of technological change.
OK, no bestowing was involved; I fished them out of neighbors’ trash. This model on the right was considered the iPhone of barbecue grills when it was introduced in the 1950s, and not just because it was a hot wireless device. Before then, most grills were topless — which let wind, rain, snow, etc. wreak havoc with whatever was on the barbie. George Stephen of Mt. Prospect, IL, cut a buoy in half, and the Weber grill was born. According to one authoritative web site, “American grillers now had a way to protect their steaks and burgers from the wind and rain, and the lid also sealed in a moist and smoky new flavor.” I know from personal experience it also works in a snowstorm.
By the way, that was once a $400 piece of equipment. Weber grills cost $50 when they were introduced in the 1950s — which is equivalent to $400 today when adjusted for inflation. I’m sure by the time the previous owner bought it, improvements in manufacuring methods brought the retail price down; this basic one now costs less than $100 new. But it became mine — surprisingly free! — when its previous owner upgraded to the next big innovation, a gas grill.
So we all have a steak in innovation — even those of us who still drive cars with manual locking doors and only use our cell phones for conversation!