Back to the Future: then and now

Today’s the day. Marty McFly will be in town in his flying time machine. The sequel to the critically acclaimed science-fiction film that birthed a worldwide fan base, “Back to the Future Part II” has crept back into the national spotlight this week since the DeLorean is set to arrive somewhere in Northern California on Oct. 21, 2015 — in other words: today. 

Countless websites have been dedicated to countdown clocks for McFly’s arrival from 1985, and tweets from Calvin Klein, Universal Pictures Entertainment and, among others, have featured tributes to the return and the hashtag #BTTF2015 for several weeks.

In Los Angeles, an event called We’re Going Back will begin to celebrate McFly’s eminent arrival tonight. The event will end Sunday and feature celebrities, screenings of the movies and several DeLoreans available for photo ops.  

McFly will be touching down at 4:29 p.m. (7:29 p.m. for those of us on the East coast), and it seems that he may be disappointed with the amount of progress we have made. 

At the very least, the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Cast Away”) will have mixed feelings about the inaccuracies between his vision and reality.

To be fair, there are technologies that we have managed to bring to life and some are in beta, but others are still no more than imagination. 


Though the colorful board McFly rides in the movie is still a ways off, companies like Lexus have made some significant progress. One prototype by the Japanese car company, released this year, is among the first sophisticated boards featuring hover technology. It relies, like most of its competitors, on magnets and super-cooled semiconductors.

Another board, the Hendo, was produced as a pet project of architect Greg Henderson, who hoped to use the hovering technology in buildings in case of earthquakes. Naturally, everyone was much more excited to float a few inches off the floor by themselves than with all of their coworkers and the watercooler.

Huge-screen TVs and video chatting

Samsung released an 85 inch, curved TV for a meager $40,000 a few years ago, and the average American household features a flat screen TV that would make your grandmother blush.

As for video chatting, there’s no question that we have managed it. Take for example Skype, Google+, Oovoo and Facetime.


Tupac and Michael Jackson fans may have mixed feelings on having their idols revived in hologram, but they can’t deny that the technology was a wonder to behold. Jackson’s post mortem performances were in high demand when they began in Vegas.

Hands-fee video games

Thanks to Xbox Kinect and the Oculus Rift, hands-free gaming is an absolute reality. In fact, such gaming is so commonplace it is largely over-played and no longer en vogue.

Commonplace consumer products

In a funny shout out to the film series,Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released a parody trailer for the Jaws sequel featured in the “Back to the Future” sequel, Jaws 19. 

Pepsi also didn’t miss a chance to cash in on a long-awaited marketing opportunity. The company released a limited-edition Pepsi Perfect product similar to the one McFly orders in the movie. To top it all off, the commercial features terrible 80s music, hover cars and hairstyles straight out of your mom’s high school yearbook. 

World Series

Perhaps the most fascinating prediction from the movie was the presence of the Chicago Cubs baseball team in the World Series. In the movie, the Cubs had won the series, and at the time, no one would have suspected the movie of any clairvoyance. The Cubs had not been in the Series playoffs since 1945 until this year, and the organization had not won the Series since 1908. 

However, this year, the Cubs have made a surprising appearance in the playoffs, and despite trailing by 3-0 against the New York Mets, their bid is not up.