Some time travel questions

This thread, a flight I’m taking tomorrow, and a dream I had recently all got me thinking about time travel. Specifically, what if our plane tomorrow, en route to Baltimore, traveled through time, back to 1987 (possibly with a stop in the Jurassic before that), a la this Twilight Zone episode? I don’t think this will happen, but you never know, it just might

If it did happen, how much do you think I could get for my 8 GB Ipod Nano, which I will probably have with me? Will Mr. Neville’s two-year-old Mac laptop be one of the top few supercomputers in the world? I would ask what I might be able to get for it, but I don’t think I could get it away from him…

What about the answers to the same questions if we ended up in 1967, as happened in my dream?

Landing in '87 won’t get you anything for your Nano. You will remember that Wham! was the big musical act that year.

I’d think computer-geek types would be more interested in it. Not for the music (though a lot of it would be familiar to them, just given my taste in music), but for the memory.

You’d get a lot more money if you’d saved a few useful web pages like this one.

Somebody’s been watching Back to the Future, Part II!

Can you use iPods as hard drives? I was thinking if you were to sell it as a storage device, you’d make a killing. You’d have to find a way to interface without the USB format though. You could bring back a USB to Serial or SCSI adapter (seems like they make USB to whatever adapters nowadays).

In 1987 cost per megabyte was $50 (generous)
8 gigabytes = 8192 megabytes
8192 * 50 = $409,600

Confiscated for Reasons of National Security.

Zero dollars.

If it’s loaded with post-1987 hit songs, the content could be worth a lot more than the unit itself.

You march that iPod Nano and that MacBook right down to Apple. Bring a really good lawyer, and start making demands.

This reminds me that I was once going to start a thread to ask what the U.S.'s top scientists could get out of a current-model cellphone or sports watch if it was transported back in in time to the WWII era.

Any takers?

Hmm, are there actually any ‘breakthrough’-technologies contained in either device, i.e. things nobody '87 was even thinking about? Because otherwise, those things aren’t gonna be of that much use – if all tech in them is just a refinement of then-existing tech, they’d still have to invent the manufacturing processes necessary for the miniaturisation of components, etc. So, handing them the iPod probably wouldn’t be any more useful to them than saying ‘hey, if you can make transistors a few orders of magnitude smaller, you’ll be able to put a whole music library on a walkman!’, something the people back then were probably well aware of, as a theoretical possibility.

What good is a cellphone without the infrastructure? Apart from the joke “Now all we need is someone with a second cellphone and wait for them to call” you also need the towers and related technology to be in place. Cellphones are not walkie-talkies.

Apart from that, you get the same issues as the Nano - the memory and processing stuff is the most important but it’s unlikely that they would be able to reverse-engineer a manufacturing process for them without decades of work.

Well, you’d basically be handing over hardware and a completely modern OS that is 20 years advanced. I’m no computer scientist or engineer, but I’m sure there’s buttloads they could reverse engineer from those 2 things; both hardware and software.

Perhaps, yes. I’m just wondering how much infrastructure it takes to actually be able to take advantage from these advanced products – for instance, I believe back then, they knew just about all about how transistors work and how they can be wired up we know now, so, handing them a really small transistor wouldn’t help too much, since the piece of knowledge (or rather, sophistication) they really lacked in order to be as advanced as we are know when it comes to transistors was precisely how to make (and handle) such small transistors. It may well be that those small transistors exhibit characteristic features that would allow the people back then to deduce how they were made, of course, but even then, actually duplicating this fabrication process might be beyond their capabilities.

That said, it might convey other benefits, such as eradicate a few dead ends, by showing which areas of research would eventually bear fruit – no small advantage over the competition in itself, of course.

As for software, I think it may be similar – the concepts existed already back then, they just lacked the sophistication, which really only is attained through a process of gradual refinement (because in most cases, you’ll need the precursor stage of some technology in order to implement the next one). Besides, I doubt that the flash of a modern OS is something entirely beyond the capacities in the past – they just didn’t have the hardware to support it.

So I think if there aren’t any genuinely new concepts those gadgets could teach the people of the past, they might well be of limited utility.

That’s not to say they might not fetch a nice price anyway – think what you’d get today when you offered some sufficiently rich guy a computer twenty years ahead of its time.

Hell, yeah! I’d pay a studio guitarist with a decent voice to record himself singing the songs (at least, all the post-1987 songs) and accompanying himself on guitar while you run the tape machine, then take the cassettes to a copyright lawyer’s office and find out how to make sure you’ve locked up the rights.

Then enjoy an excellent income stream as the artists/bands get around to actually recording the songs, and as your lawyer sends registered letters to their record companies.

Of course, if you’re transported back to 1987, you’ve probably got enough knowledge in your head to make a fortune. It would have been a great time to buy Microsoft stock!

That’s my plan for making money if it ever does happen. It’s good to have a plan for lots of contingencies.

Depending on just when in 1987 you landed, you might be able to impress people by predicting the stock market crash.

Wouldn’t the compact computing power in the calculator function by itself be a marvel? Or the LCD screen? Or tiny rechargeable battery?

Well, that’s contingent on how much you can learn from a non-destructive analysis. One the thing gets broken apart for study, there won’t be any means of fixing it.

this question seems like a Journeyman episode.

Episode 112 The Hanged Man. Go watch it if you can, that show was pretty good, too bad it didn’t get picked up for another season.