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'Back to the Future' at 30: Where the tech looks tacky

Time sure does McFly. It was exactly 30 years ago this week that "Back to the Future" -- the comedy fantasy starring Michael J. Fox as time traveler Marty McFly -- lit up movie screens and became the summer blockbuster of 1985.

In the movie, Fox was transported back to 1955 and had to make sure his parents, then teens, fell in love and got married. Much of the movie's humor stemmed from jokes about innovations and technology that seemed so modern in '85. Let's go back in time for a remembrances of thing past from the "Future."


The Walkman, the iPod of the '80s, was then considered a state-of-the-art gizmo and got plenty of product placement in "Back to the Future." In one scene, McFly's teacher Mr. Strickland confiscates all of his students' Walkmans, and in another set in 1955, McFly uses his Walkman to give his future dad a rude awakening by blasting an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo in his ear.


The transporter was originally envisioned as a refrigerator, but director Robert Zemeckis feared children might accidentally lock themselves in the family fridge, so the screenwriters came up with the idea to create a mobile time machine. The plutonium-powered DeLorean, which bore some resemblance to a flying saucer, seemed like a good model. For some reason, plutonium has yet to click as a fuel source for cars.


During his travel back in time, McFly goes to Lou's Cafe and orders a Pepsi Free, the decaf version of the soda introduced in 1982. (Today he'd have to ask for the soda by its proper name, Caffeine Free Pepsi.) When the owner thinks he wants a free Pepsi, McFly then orders a Tab. Good luck finding that one today.


The 30th anniversary "Back to the Future" celebration is moving ahead with all the speed of a DeLorean. Here are three ways you can join in the fun.

Cable channel AMC screens all three "Back to the Future" movies twice on Wednesday, July 1, starting at noon.

After seeing the "Future" trilogy, check out Caseen Gaines' new book "We Don't Need Roads" (Plume, $17) for behind-the-scenes stories on making the movies.

Feel "The Power of Love" and more tunes from the movie in the cabaret revue "54 Sings Back to the Future," Aug. 21 and 28 at 9:30 p.m. at 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. in Manhattan. For more info, go to

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