A recent trip to Costco cost NPR's Uri Berliner $303.53. The haul included razor blades, cans of soup and tuna fish, laundry detergent, heartburn relief medicine and dog treats. As an investment, it will pay off if he uses what he bought — and if the price tag for the same items is higher if he returns in a year. Mary-Elizabeth Berliner hide caption

itoggle caption Mary-Elizabeth Berliner

A lone employee oversees Hewlett-Packard workstations being assembled at a plant on Jan. 1, 1993. Huge improvements in computer technology propelled the economy during that decade. Ovak Arslanian/Time hide caption

itoggle caption Ovak Arslanian/Time