6.3 cu ft refrigerator, 1947$ = $127; 2022$ = $1,687.31
2022 Magic Chef 7.3 cu. ft refrigerator: $274.99
There are two subjects to account for here: (1) value engineering (2) survivor bias. "Value engineering" means the Magic Chef was designed to a price point. Thanks very much to computers and computing, engineering has gotten radically more precise since 1947. Think about this: VCRs don't work without micron tolerances in the read heads and VCRs are so primitive and old that you're all contemplating the last time you saw one. That on-sale-for-$127 refrigerator was a value in 1947, but it was also five times as expensive as the 2022 value. It used more electricity, weighed more, and had maintenance planned in its life cycle.
Which is where "survivor bias" comes in. Not every 1947 GE refrigerator survived. They didn't all keep working. Nearly all of them succumbed to time, or cost too much to maintain, or had the seals go and there were no parts, etc. The ones that are left? We look at and marvel. We do that with everything, from trees to cars to grandparents. Some of 'em are gonna keep on truckin'. That's what a normal distribution says - some are gonna die early, some are going to live forever.
And the better your value engineering, the fewer outliers.
Look. You can buy the shit out of a $1600 fridge. You can also go old-school. here's a 5.5 cu ft. Miele. It's $1800, is absolutely tiny, and is nearly 100% feature-free. It's also built in a privately-held factory in Germany renowned for its working conditions, attention to detail and dedication to craft. I mean yeah Samsung will sell you one with the Internet on it but again - value engineering. Nobody in 1947 thought they needed a camera inside talking to a monitor outside to tell them what's in the goddamn fridge but here we are. Meanwhile if you want truck-like appliances they're readily available.
Fuckin' old farts have been saying "they just don't build 'em like they used to" for as long as there's been old farts. But look - the first plasma I ever spec'd was a 50" pioneer 720p that came in at a whopping $20,000. Right now? Amazon will get me a 50" 4k by tomorrow morning for $250.00. If I wanted to spend $20k that gets me like four 90" 8k monstrosities. That 1947 GE? kinda sucks for GE that it's still running if you ask them. Singer did that; they built their sewing machines way, way, way too well to the point where they instituted the tradition of "trade-in" so they could buy back their old shit and scrap it. This is why you still see "original" Singer sewing machines but you see exactly zero Gen II Singer sewing machines. They learned.
A couple years ago a local gentleman brought his 1947 GE fridge to me for rewiring and re-gasketing.
Haha everything but the compressor and condenser
That job went well and he has been using that fridge ever since as a beverage fridge.
Which means he fills it full of beer and over the course of several days it cools things down to cellar temperature. Yeah - if you put a giant heat mass inside an ancient fridge and don't expect it to get too cold, it will still sort of work. But let's not pretend it's good as new.