To calculate what a dollar was worth in 1963, multiply $1 by the ratio of the consumer price index in 1963 and the consumer price index today. For example, the CPI for July 2014 was 238.25 and the annual CPI for 1963 was 30.6. Divide 238.25 by 30.6 to get 7.79 and multiply that by $1 to determine that one dollar today would have been worth $7.79 in 1963. Divide $1 by 7.79 to determine that one dollar in 1963 would be worth about 13 cents today.
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You can calculate the same figure by adding 1 to the percentage change in the CPI between the two years. For example, the percentage change is calculated as (2014 CPI - 1963 CPI) /1963 CPI. Subtract 30.6 from 238.25 to get 207.65. Divide that by 30.6 to get 6.79. Something that cost $1 in 1963 would cost $1 plus 6.79 times $1, or $7.79.
This calculation measures inflation based on the Consumer Price Index, but the CPI is not the only measure of inflation. For example, the Producer Price Index, the Employment Cost Index and the Gross Domestic Product Deflator all measure different aspects of inflation. The right measure to use in your calculation depends on how you intend to use the result. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI is the best measure to use when you intend to compare the cost of purchasing equivalent goods and services in the past at today's prices.