You can scope out the price tag of a Mac or PC at any given electronics hawker, but how much are computers really worth to us? Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta actually tried tackling that question, and they came up with $500 billion—or, on average about $1,700 per person. That's equal to about 5% of total consumer spending in 2009, reports the Wall Street Journal.
To come up with that number, the economists had to calculate "welfare gain," the difference between how much people pay for computers and how much benefit they receive. As costs for desktops, notebooks, hard drives, and other computer-related gear has fallen, their benefits have increased—by comparison, the welfare gain back in the computer Dark Ages was between zero and $6. (Read more personal computers stories.)