A History of Technology, Via the Consumer Price Index

TV antennae Marcelo Del Pozo / Reuters

If you want to get deep—and I mean really, really deep—into the technological buying patterns of the American consumer, one of the best places to start is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Not only has the agency tracked purchasing habits since the Consumer Price Index began in 1913, but its statisticians pay attention to a remarkable array of details. Like which refrigerator color people like best, and how preferences change over time. (White,...

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