Nearly 20 years before Bob Barker took the mic and Johnny Olson asked contestants to “Come on down!,” The Price is Right premiered on NBC. Running almost continuously since its debut on November 26, 1956—it was off the air from the original iteration’s final episode in 1965 until its resurrection (with Bob Barker as host) in 1972—The Price Is Right holds the honor of being North America’s longest-running daytime game show.
The original version, with Bill Cullen as host, was a slightly different beast from the show we know and love today. Notably absent from this first run were the final Showcase rounds between the episode’s top two contestants. Instead, the showcase (a seven-item prize pack) was for the home audience to bid on via mailed responses. An early iteration of the audience showcase included a pipe organ, cigarette box, Polaroid camera, and 1959 Ford convertible—oh, how the times have changed!
When the Showcase round first appeared in its current form in 1972, it instantly became a hit with audiences. It remains a staple in today’s show although, you’ll notice, the prizes—and their values—have changed just a bit. Here’s a look back at 11 Showcases—and approximately how much they’d be worth today.
In this 1972 episode—the second since The Price is Right’s return to television—the first showcase consists of a set of six Westclox clocks (one for each room!) and a trip to see “the biggest clock of all” on a 15-day trip for two to London, Paris, and Rome from Beltz Travel. In 1972, it was valued at $1420. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $8,066 in 2014.
This questionable 1975 Thanksgiving-themed Showcase includes a 10-pound Checkerboard Farms roasting turkey, a Litton microwave oven, a Maytag dishwasher, and a new Glasspar speed boat with a 55hp Johnson engine and Spartan trailer, worth $4911. It would cost you $21,673 today.
In 1978, you could have the good fortune of taking home a Riverside bar set, a new living room set from Fame Furniture, 30 square yards of Laurelcrest carpet, and an Aeolian player piano—if the price is right! The prizes were valued at $5198 in 1978, which would cost you $18,929 today.
You’ve really gotta love these themed Showcases. In 1981, a time capsule-themed Showcase (set to the Star Trek theme music) included a six-night trip for two to the Grand Canyon, a movie camera, projector, and screen from Hanimex, backpacking equipment for two from Peak1, and a brand new 1982 Jeep. The right price was $12,057, or $31,493 today.
This Showcase from 1984 might just be my all-time favorite. It includes a living room set from Clayton Marcus, 40 square yards of carpeting from World Carpets, a Hoover vacuum cleaner, and—wait for it—a lightweight Eipper airplane. The value in 1984 was $8456; today, it's $19,324. And it begs the question: Why didn’t more people own their own airplanes in 1984?
This 1988 “bookend” Showcase (which basically just meant glum-looking Mary got two of everything) included two Litton microwave ovens, two Honda Fat Cat off-road bikes, and two jet skis, for a value of $14,572. That's $29,247 in 2014.
In the 1990s, gazebos began to feature prominently in the Showcases. This Showcase from 1991 included a “delightful” new Black Forest musical cuckoo clock, a new bedroom set from Hooker Furniture, a Crown Crafts bedding set (complete with 200-thread count sheets), an Englander queen mattress set, and that promised Catalina spa and mahogany gazebo. In 1991, that would set you back $16,456; today, you'd pay $28,687.
This Showcase of portable items will make you super grateful for your iPad. It includes a (gigantic) JRC cell phone and adapter, a portable 5-inch television, and a portable stereo located inside the Showcase’s biggest prize, an Oldsmobile Aurora. Value: $37,670 in 1996, and $57,005 today.
The Price is Right really pulled out all the stops for Bob Barker’s 80th birthday on December 12, 2003. His birthday-themed Showcase included a Whirlpool kitchen set (for baking Bob a cake), a bar set, a 55-inch television (for watching Bob on TV), and a 2004 Cadillac DeVille. The prizes were valued at $56,640; today, you'd pay $73,088.
If you thought Bob Barker’s 80th birthday episode was big, just wait until you see the Showcase featured on his final episode. Before Barker handed the microphone off to Drew Carey, he gave away a Showcase that included a Firestone electric grill, a seven-day Greek island and Turkey cruise for two from Monarch Cruises, and a Cadillac XLR convertible. Value: $90,761 in 2007, and $103,933 today.
This 2011 Showcase included a 22-item snack pack, picnic gear, a Little Guy retro travel trailer, and a Chevy Colorado truck, which was valued at $28,451. Today, the prizes would have a value of $30,031.
And finally, The Price Is Right went green with this 2014 Earth Day Showcase. It included an Energy Star-qualified Toshiba laptop with a solar power charger, an eco-friendly washer/dryer from LG, and a hybrid Honda Insight LX, for a value of $22,395.