How the World Has Changed From 1917 to 2017

Over the last 100 years, the world has changed tremendously.

For perspective, this year at Abundance 360, I gave a few fun examples of what the world looked like in 1917.

This blog is a look at what the world looked like a century ago and what it looks like today.

Let’s dive in.

In 1917…

One hundred years ago, things looked a little bit different.

1. World Literacy Rates

1917: The world literacy rate was only 23 percent.

Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1 percent.

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 US 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. The First Hamburger

1917: The hamburger bun was invented by a fry cook named Walter Anderson, who co-founded White Castle.

Today: On average, Americans eat three hamburgers a week. That’s a national total of nearly 50 billion burgers per year. And now we’re even inventing 100 percent plant-based beef burgers… produced by Impossible Foods and available at select restaurants.

5. Average Price of a Car in the US

1917: The average price of a car in the US was $400 ($8,926.74 when adjusted for inflation)

Today: The average car price in the US was $34,968 as of January 2017.

6. The First Boeing Aircraft

1917: A Boeing aircraft flew for the first time on June 15.

Today: In 2015, there were almost 24,000 turboprop and regional aircraft, as well as wide body and narrow body jets, in service worldwide.

7. Coca-Cola

1917: On July 1, 1916, Coca-Cola introduced its current formula to the market.

Today: Today, Coca-Cola has a market cap of about $178 billion with 2015 net operating revenues over $44 billion. Each day, over 1.9 billion servings of Coca-Cola drinks are enjoyed in more than 200 countries.

7. Average US Wages

1917: The average US hourly wage was 22 cents an hour ($4.90 per hour when adjusted for inflation)

Today: The average US hourly wage is approximately $26 per hour.

8. Supermarkets

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.

9. Billionaires

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.

10. Telephones (Landlines vs. Cellphones)

1917: Only 8 percent of homes had a landline telephone.

Today: Forget landlines! In the US, nearly 80 percent 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.

11. Traffic (Horses to Cars)

1917: In 1912, traffic counts in New York showed more cars than horses for the first time.

Today: There were approximately 253 million cars and trucks on US roads in 2015.

12. US Population

1917: The US population broke 100 million, and the global population reached 1.9 billion.

Today: The US population is 320 million, and the global population broke 7.5 billion this year.

13. 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.

14. High School Graduation Rates

1917: Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Today: Over 80 percent of all Americans graduated high school this past year.

15. Cost of Bread

1917: A loaf of bread was $0.07 ($1.50 when adjusted for inflation).

Today: A loaf of bread costs $2.37.

16. Speed Limits

1917: The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Today: The maximum speed limit in most cities is about 70 mph.

Just wait for the next 100 years.

Join Me

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Abundance Digital is my ‘onramp’ for exponential entrepreneurs — those who want to get involved and play at a higher level. Click here to learn more.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions. He is also the executive founder and director of Singularity University, a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all. As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital, and education. He is also co-founder of BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies. Diamandis is a New York Times Bestselling author of two books: Abundance and BOLD. He earned degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT and holds an MD from Harvard Medical School. Peter’s favorite saying is “the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
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