How to Travel Through Time in Nine Easy Steps

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by Kevin Kelly

Everyone wants a personal time travel device, but with so many different devices to choose from, how do you make a well-informed decision? Everyone knows about Doc Brown’s Delorean, the Doctor’s TARDIS, and H.G. Wells’ contrapulation, but what about some of the other time time travel gizmos? We walk you through the nine best ones, and explain how each one can take you back to that painful high school moment.


  • The Guardian from Star Trek: In “City on the Edge of Forever,” Kirk and Spock had to hop through a giant talking stone donut in order to follow a crazy Bones back into the Great Depression. Bones had a fever and a bad skin rash, Spock had to work in a soup kitchen and build a device in what little spare time he had, while Kirk spent all his time wooing Joan Collins. Later, they were able to hop safely back through. If that’s not easy time travel, then I don’t know what is.

  • The Omni from Voyagers!Voyagers! ran on NBC from 1982 to 1983, and featured the awesome pocket-watch sized Omni as one of the coolest time travel devices ever. It had a miniature scale model of the earth inside, and red and green lights that would tell you if time was “flowing normally” or if it had been disturbed. You would spin the dials and set it (and forget it) and travel back to any time you wanted, which usually just happened to involve temporal anomalies involving famous people.

  • The Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill: Barry Allen decided he wanted to check out time travel, so he invented a treadmill that ran (zing!) on cosmic rays. A speedster could set it to a specific time, either forwards or backwards, and then run on the treadmill until it sent him back to that time. Get this, they stayed in that time by “maintaining his internal vibration” that was specific to that time travel. Talk about working overtime. Later Wally West discovered he could time travel without the treadmill, but nothing really beats putting the word “cosmic” in front of something. If only he’d invented the cosmic ab-cruncher and cosmic stairmaster.
  • Dr. Evil’s Time Warp Machine from Austin Powers 2: This is from the category of time machine where they never even attempt to explain to you why or how it works, it just does. Which is how all evil genius machines should work. Who needs all that explanation about tachyons and the space-time continuum and all that? Plus it had a psychedelic look and feel to it as well. You just run up to it and throw yourself on it like a velcro wall, and you pop out in the appropriate time… as long as they have another time machine on the other end, apparently. Granted, Austin’s own new Volkswagen bug time machine might have looked cool, but that was just a Delorean ripoff.

  • Doctor Doom’s Time Platform: Not to be outdone by all the time travel going on in the DC universe, where it seemed like if Superman sneezed he’d end up in the 1800s, Marvel had their own action happening with Doom and his time machine. Doom never really got enough credit, building working Doombots, devices that gave people superpowers, creating massive weapons and all that jazz. Maybe because he was too whiny and bitchy when it came to the Fantastic Four. Anyhow, his time machine was a platform that you’d stand on, wank with some controls, and then you’d be sent back in time, no problem! Why he never conquered the damn world with this thing I’ll never know.

  • The Time Traveling Roller Coaster Ride from Timecop: In this Jean Claude Van Damme flick, you hopped into what looked like an amusement park ride, and got blasted towards a wall that you hoped would open up into a time-portal before you got smushed into jelly. It uses the whole “acceleration as time travel” idea, but really does it in style. We just wish there would have a been a “You Must Be This HIgh To Ride This Ride” sign next to Van Damme. Or at least someone asking for his e-ticket.
  • The Timespheres from Terminator: They weren’t the most practical devices, because when you were sent back through them they burned off all your clothes. Meaning you couldn’t be sent backwards or forwards into a heavily populated area unless you didn’t mind everyone seeing your junk. Now, don’t ask us how they can send machines back in time as long as they’re covered with skin. It boggles our mind too.
















  • The penny from Somewhere in Time: Christopher Reeve learned how to travel back in time from 1980 to 1912 in order to be with Jane Seymour, who he’s fallen in love with from staring at old photographs of her. Yes, it’s corny, we know it. But when he finds a Lincoln penny from 1979 in his pocket and zaps back to the future, even you might admit you have feelings, you robots. It was based on the novel Bid Time Return by I Am Legend author Richard Matheson, and is Reeve’s best-known film outside of the Superman series.

  • Uncle Rico’s Time Machine from Napoleon Dynamite: Sure, it didn’t work and it appeared to only make your testicles hurt (no idea what it did to women), but you had to give the ripoff artist who invented it credit for including things like “time crystals.” We’d still want one, just to screw with people.


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