'80s movie gadgets you know you wanted

From a time-traveling car to the ultimate 'gadget'


The 1980s were a magical time for cinema. It was the time of awesome storytelling and some of the most stunning filmmaking ever.


After all, who can forget such gems as "Earth Girls Are Easy" or "Bachelor Party"?


And for all the awesome movies, some even included gadgets that became the standout stars. Some of those devices have become icons of the films in which they appeared, and even the '80s itself.


It would be easy to just rattle off some of the tools from James Bond movies (like the Casio video watch in 1983's "Octopussy"), but those are in a category all their own. These are the gadgets from the mainstream movies that as soon as they showed up on the screen, we wanted them.


And don't deny it -- you know you wanted them, too.


No. 5: DeLorean time machine - "Back to the Future" (1985)


Time machines are cool -- no doubt about it. That one from 1960's "The Time Machine" was certainly a sight to behold, but it had nothing on Doc Brown's modified DeLorean from "Back to the Future." And once it hit 88 mph, you saw some serious ... well, you know.


Why is a time machine cool? Why isn't it cool? Who hasn't wanted to go back in time and tell an earlier version of yourself which horse to bet on, or that the particular girl you're thinking of asking out is best avoided?


The core of the stylish, stainless steel time machine's functionality was the Flux Capacitor, and Doc later pimped it out with a Mr. Fusion (no longer needing plutonium fuel) and a hover package.


If you wanted to go faster than 88 miles per hour, you'd find something cool in a galaxy far, far away ...


No. 4: Speeder Bike - "Return of the Jedi" (1983)


Used by Imperial patrols on the Forest Moon of Endor, these bikes were cool to zip around, terrorizing the little indigenous teddy bears. They also came equipped with a blaster and a comms jammer.


The only problem was if some wise guy with a lightsaber cut the steering vane off your speeder, you were likely to spin wildly out of control and crash into a tree.


The bikes were great in the Star Wars universe, but would you want one here on Earth? You better believe it. You could zip in and out of rush hour traffic like you were the only one on the road. It wouldn't be practical for going to the grocery store (your groceries would fly off the back), but it would be an awesome ride.


Some of the best gadgets had minds of their own, and even managed to be spunky little things ...


No. 3: Johnny 5 - "Short Circuit" (1986)


Sure, when we think of movie robots our minds naturally conjure images of R2-D2, C-3PO, and the T-101 Terminator.


But in the '80s, one robot took the automaton to a new, fun level -- of course that robot was none other than Johnny 5 from "Short Circuit". Johnny's given name is SAINT 5 (Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport) and Johnny 5 was the fifth (hence the "5") in a line of sentient combat robots made by the Nova Corporation.


He took on the name "Johnny" after hearing the delightful DeBarge song "Who's Johnny?" Johnny decides war isn't his thing, so he runs away and pals up with Ally Sheedy and Steve Gutenberg (remember them?) and wacky hijinx ensue.


A lot of the gadgets we loved are, basically, some sort of tool. Johnny was a tool for one function -- war. But there was even a more famous electronic tool in 1980s cinema ...


No. 2: Proton Pack - "Ghostbusters" (1984)


The Proton Pack is a man-portable particle accelerator that creates a charged particle beam and is used to weaken ghosts until they can be trapped and taken back to Ghostbusters HQ.


Why did we want it? Well, the proton pack is great for not only apprehending rogue ghosts, but also shooting up swanky hotels. And, in the event there's a super-phantasm bent on destroying the world -- and you happen to be with a buddy who also has a proton pack -- all you need to do is cross the streams.


Plus, when you switched it on, it was the coolest sounding gadget ever.


We've taken the term "gadget" to mean electronic devices. But sometimes, the best "gadgets" were the product of our electronics ...


No. 1: Lisa - "Weird Science" (1985)


For teenagers Gary and Wyatt, all it took to conjure the perfect woman were magazine cutouts, a Barbie doll and a hacked defense department computer system.


Of course, the perfect woman -- Lisa -- turned out to be Kelly LeBrock, and we can't really argue with that. The guys also programmed her with the intelligence of Einstein and the fashion sense of David Lee Roth (remember, it was 1985).


While the little maniacs Wyatt and Gary didn't use her for any of the things you'd expect from hormonally charged teenagers -- save for showering with her while still partially dressed -- she did teach them important life lessons (i.e., how to stand up to a gang of angry, scary, mutant bikers; and get the girls of their dreams).


And really, isn't that better than any time machine, killer robot, nuclear backpack or speeder bike?