The $100 Walmart laptop does not hold a candle to the capabiity and quality of even a ten-year-old MacBook Pro. On the other hand, pcooley could buy a newer MacBook Pro for a few hundred dollars which would be good for a while longer. But that misses the point.

Electronic objects are not purely mechanical objects whose jobs have not changed in decades. That '52 Raleigh traverses over roads which are built essentially the same way they were hundreds of years ago. Pots and pans cook the same way they did for your grandparents (though induction cookware adds some safety benefits and imposes some materials restrictions).

Electronics is a newer field and we still are figuring out what they can do. Argue about cat videos and social media if you like, but the rapid ascendance of the mobile phone has connected people throughout the world, putting a wealth of human knowledge, experience, and agency in their hands, and does so at ever lower costs.

Cars today come with accident-avoidance and survival designs and equipment that we could only dream about years ago; in fact, 30-40 years ago the number of people who were killed in car accidents annually was equivalent to the total number that died in the Vietnam War. The death rate in cars today is half of what it was in the 80s even though cars cover half again the number of miles they did back then.

Not to be unkind, but time marches on. The switch from pulse dialing to tone dialing took place because it allowed more efficient use of expensive telephone company switches (which customers paid for); tone dialing also is now used for voice-response systems ("Press 4 to get your account balance.") and systems like burglar alarms and LifeAlert-type systems. Newer equipment; additional capabilities. Good thing there's a cheap interface box.

In the case of the MacBook Pro, even the computing environment today is different. People have figured out how to game the system and steal information or disrupt operations on computers connected to the Internet; newer versions of applications and operating systems close those loopholes. (This is not perfect; sometimes closing those loopholes breaks functionality or opens new loopholes, but the effort is there the same way it is made in other industries). Newer computers are far more interoperable in the world than they were.

I'll say that I used a nine-year-old MacBook Pro until about two years ago (it was replaced because it physically wore out). I kept up with security updates and could find applications to do what I needed to do without the vendor endlessly berating me to update. I do use the Internet and find it makes my life simpler to buy some things on-line, so it makes sense to protect my personal and financial information as best I can. Having to update my computer occasionally is part of the price of what I can do with it. I use the money I've saved by not updating my circa-1978 receiver and 1981 Trek. On balance it is worth it to me. Electronics are just a different beast.