Everybody knows that going back in time to make yourself stinking rich is not advisable. (See: Biff Tannen.) But let’s just say, for the sake of a thought experiment, that you have access to a time machine and little regard for the integrity of the space-time continuum.
You’re totally going back to 1980 to buy Apple stock, right?
That’s the year Apple Computer went public. (It dropped the “Computer” from its name to become Apple Inc. in 2007, right in time for the introduction of a transformative device: the smartphone.)
If you had spent $1,000 on Apple stock in 1980, you would have been able to buy about 45 shares at $22 apiece. But! Apple shares have split four times since then—when a stock splits, it increases the number of shares an individual has—which puts the adjusted initial offering price at closer to 39 cents a share. Using that figure, an investment of $1,000 in Apple back in 1980 would yield close to $272,000 today.
You don’t actually have to go back to the Apple IPO to see the potential for an investment windfall. Imagine you’d invested $1,000 in Apple in April 2003, when shares bottomed out at $6.56. Today, those shares would be worth more than $226,000. (Remember that’s taking into account a 2-for-1 split in 2005 and a 7-for-1 split in 2014.)