21 Oct 2015

So this is the future...

9:21 am on 21 October 2015

Is this the future? It is for Marty McFly. The iconic '80s film character travelled forward in time to 21 October, 2015 in Back to the Future II.

There he found a very different world to the one he was used to. But how much did the film get right about 2015? Bridget Tunnicliffe takes a look at some of the hits and misses.

Test your back to the future knowedge with our Back to the Future quiz.

Flying cars

Perhaps the film's most ambitious idea was that in 2015 we would be driving cars capable of flying. Well, we're not even close. We are impressed enough with the advent of drones - the unmanned aerial vehicles that are all the rage now - and even they give us headaches. A few of them have been involved in near misses with commercial flights in an already congested airspace. How could we possibly introduce more traffic up there?


We've come a long way in terms of convenience foods. Microwave dinners have advanced from macaroni cheese through to roast dinners with all the trimmings. We've gone highly processed, highly packaged, and in America nothing, including melted cheese in a canister, is off limits. But none of it comes close to the Black and Decker hydrator that sat in the McFly family kitchen which enlarged the size of a pizza 10-fold in seconds. It's still the stuff of science fiction - and maybe something the modern diet can do without.

The hydrator from the movie Back to the Future 2.

Seconds later the bite-sized pizza comes out steaming hot and 10 times the size. Photo: You Tube - Movie clips

The hoverboard

Hoverboards have become an obsession for teenage boys and amateur designers ever since Marty McFly jumped on one in Back to the Future II. Technically speaking, a handful of inventors with money and time on their hands have succeeded in creating forms of the hoverboard, but they are a long way off being mass produced, affordable or reliable enough for the average Joe to use. They won't be under the Christmas tree anytime soon.

Back to the Future - hoverboard

The hoverboard is a long way off being mass produced. Photo: You Tube - Movie clips


Maybe if faxes were as efficient as the ones portrayed in the movie they wouldn't have become as close to extinction as they are now. When Marty McFly senior is fired after going behind his boss's back, he receives confirmation of the bad news by way of a fax within seconds of his termination. It comes out through a slot in his briefcase and a device in the wall.

Future fax machine - Scene from Back to the Future

What faxes should be like. Photo: You Tube - Movie clips

The same firing sequence sees McFly snr and his boss speak to each other via video phone, similar to Skype - a nice, accurate take on the future. But the closest the movie gets to predicting the internet is when the boss says, "I was monitoring that scan you just interfaced."

Back to the Future - glasses

Marty McFly wears some serious shades at the dinner table. Photo: You Tube - Movie clips

Back then, the movie couldn't have imagined the vastness of the internet, its immediacy or the pervasiveness of the mobile phone.

It nonetheless did a good job of predicting our pre-occupation with personal electronics, featuring multipurpose glasses that users wore to watch TV or answer calls. Google Glass, anyone?


McFly was delighted when the Nike shoes he donned on did themselves up and Nike recently confirmed rumours that they are working on boots with "power laces," inspired by the shoes in the film.

The film's other fashion predictions haven't eventuated. Early on in the movie, Doc Brown pulls Marty's jean pockets inside out to help him to "fit in", as that's how the kids are wearing their clothes in 2015. Still, considering some of the wacky fashions we've seen over the years, the film was really quite conservative.

Back to the future - shoes

Power laces may not be too far away Photo: You tube - sleepy6uy

Back to the Future 2 - fashion

The cool kids wore face paint and severe clothing Photo: You Tube - Movie clips