Science fiction's goofiest gadgets and technology

A preview of what gizmos won't be appearing in future editions of tech magazine columns

Now before any of you start complaining, let me just say that I think the original "Time Machine" is one of the better sci-fi films to come out of the 1960s. Although the story strayed thematically from H.G. Wells' brilliant 1895 classic -- mainly because it transformed a Marxist allegory about class war into a standard Cold War-era anti-Commie tale -- it was also a tightly-woven and compelling story. But then there's the time machine itself. Basically, it's a Victorian comfy chair that's attached to a set of bejeweled levers and a metal umbrella. When you pull the lever forward, the umbrella starts to spin, seizure-inducing lights flash all around you, and you somehow end up in the future. How does this machine actually work, you ask? Who knows! Spinning metal plates and blinking lights were apparently science-y enough back in the '60s to be accepted as a realistic portrayal of breaking through to the fourth dimension. At least the DeLorean in Back to the Future looked cool enough so that we didn't think too hard about what the heck a "flux capacitor" was.

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