ReportsLast 100 Years

“One reason why we do not see progress is that we are unaware of how bad the past was.”
-Max Roser (2016)

Last update: Q1 2017

World literacy rates
1917: 23%
Today: 86%

Travel
1917: 5 days London-New York, 3.5 months London-Australia
Today: 8hrs London-New York, 1 day London-Australia

Average price of a house (USA)
1917: $5k ($112k adjusted for inflation)
Today: $273k (average price as of 2010)

First hamburger
1917: hamburger bun invented
Today: Americans eat 3 hamburgers/week…now inventing 100% plant-based beef burgers

Average price of a car (USA)
1917: $400 ($9k adjusted for inflation)
Today: $35k (Jan-2017)

First Boeing aircraft
1917: a Boeing aircraft flew for the first time
Today: 24k turboprop + regional aircraft + wide body + narrow body jets, in service worldwide (2015)

Coca-Cola
1917: current formula introduced (1916)
Today: current market cap of $180b+ billion

Average wages (USA)
1917: $0.22/hr ($4.90/hr adjusted for inflation)
Today: $26/hr

Supermarkets
1917: first “super” market opened in 1916 (Piggly Wiggly in Memphis, TN)
Today: 38k+ supermarkets, employing 3.4m people, generating $650b in sales (2015)

Billionaires
1917: John D. Rockefeller became the world’s first ($340 in today’s dollars)
Today: approximately 2k billionaires (Bill Gates is worth $84b)

Telephones
1917: 8% of USA homes have landlines
Today: 80% of the population has a smartphone (a supercomputer in their pockets)

Traffic
1917: traffic counts in NY showed more cars than horses for the first time (1912)
Today: 253m cars + trucks on USA roads (2015)

USA population
1917: 100m (global pop reached 1.9b)
Today: 320m (global pop brakes 7.5b)

Major tech invention
1917: the toggle light switch
Today: CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology (enables to reprogram life)

High School graduation rates
1917: 6% of all Americans
Today: 80% of all Americans

Cost of loaf of bread
1917: $0.07 ($1.50 adjusted for inflation)
Today: $2.37

Maximum speed limits in most cities
1917: 10mph
Today: 70mph

More at https://www.gatesnotes.com/2017-Annual-Letter