How much could you make travelling back in time?


What if you could take with yourself a modern hardware back in the Past? Let’s say in 1995? How much ahead would you be of other artists? Would you become rich instantly?


That would depend if you travel back from the future with your current level of knowledge or not, if you do you might end up breaking the space/time continuum and disrupt time as we know it. However if you travel back in time to 1995 with modern hardware but the knowledge and skills of a 1995 artist then your damage to the space/time continuum might not be as bad because you would not be capable to do much more with that fancy hardware.

/ Magnus


Nice points, Magnus3d! But what comes to mind, if studios could really use the output? In 1995 games looked like Quake 2, and maybe you could use that advantage only in top studios. But once again, they wouldn’t let you use your own software and hardware. Also, it seems it would be illegal using software back then, which wasn’t created yet (seems like a gray area of law though).


I would find Mark Zuckerberg, the guys behind youtube and google and invest in them.

Forget how good of an artist I would be. I’d make billions off the knowledge I have. If you had that type of power you would be insanely wealthy.

I would then take more money an invest it in creating my IP empire. Then invest some in the foreign market Naver when it was about to come out.

Seriously you realize the guy who drew the mural over at Facebook is worth 500,000,000 dollars vs the 60,000 payout he could have charged them.


Yeah, either that or just trolling the internet with images rendered in Keyshot.


would you be taking your hardware with you? scenes made today our would hardware would blow through without missing a beat would bring a top system back then to its knees


You’d probably have to do EVERYTHING yourself and publish your render output to as generic an image format as possible. Like RAW.
Otherwise the tools contemporary to ‘back-in-the-day’ would just say “cannot load file”.

You’d probably have trouble just getting data off your machine with the OSes from back then.

Not as heroic as you’d hope…


Well, he COULD render everything as run length encoded SGI, Alias, or TGA files and they would be readable by any SGI Indigo of that day.

I’d recon you could also sell that Core I7 TO SGI or MIPS for a pretty penny as well.

Quantum would also love to inspect that 8TB hard drive your carrying. Assuming they can figure out some way to rig the SATA connector to a SCSI bus or IDE bus.

I’m thinking 3D Labs would pay an absolute fortune to rip the on board graphics off the motherboard.

If you make it back, give up 3D. Take up sports betting and the stock market. When youve exhausted that sell the rest of what you know to government. Last thing you want is to be parked in a basement at ILM or Disney with an entire production crew holding the long knives for you hardware and a copy of Softimage XSI. (They won’t take much to Maya, looks almost the same today as it did in 96)


Using time travel in this fashion would be problematic at best.

What happens when a hardware component dies on you? You can’t just go to your nearest CompUSA. They won’t have the components you need for 20+ more years. Traveling back with spares of everything is a dicey affair too. What dies first? How often will those components die in the next 20 years? How many spares do you take? Hiding that tech from prying eyes will be no small feat.

What about OS degradation or app corruption? Most modern software requires online activation or validation. You could travel with those cracks that would be illegal in the future (ie. now), but to keep them on tap for 20 years? You better have that stuff backed up. How about when your OS needs reinstalling and refreshing? Gotta travel with all of those drivers, OS updates, and so on. There’s going to be no way to auto update or download anything that you’ll need. A lot of planning here.

Suppose that this all does go off without a hitch. Hardware’s covered. Software too. It’s 1995 and you’ve still got to compete with Pixar. You might have a major leg up on all of the hardware tech, but you’re just one person. They’ve got a team. You might get one movie done in the time it takes them to make five. You might also have the skill, but they’ve got the talent - voice talent. You’ve got no connections in that time period. Good luck attracting and Ellen DeGeneres or a Tom Hanks, ya’ nobody. :stuck_out_tongue:

Let’s suppose all of THAT lines up. How long can you keep your little time travel secret? If you, a lone wolf artist, suddenly poses a real challenge to the relatively nascent Pixar, magazines and such are going to want an inside scoop. They’re going to want the official tour of what makes your studio such a success. The moment they accidentally snap a pic of Maya 2018 on your system… Oops. Explain that.

Maybe you’ll be better off making games. The technical barrier for entry is going to be much lower there. You can “innovate” there without having to divulge all that much. Since this is 1995, you can probably scoop id Software before they release Quake and come out with something better than that initial offering. Revolutionize the mod world. Revolutionize multiplayer. Use rendering techniques that would be advanced in 1995, but old hat now. Today’s software would help speed up your workflow for 1995 game art by an unbelievable degree, You could be a huge, huge success even as a one man band in 1995. Best of all, because you’ll be tied to old platforms for the deliverables, you’ll be “forced” to use the easy to find compilers and IDEs of the time. The only real thing that you’ll have to hide will be your art tools. Even if you’re forced to use old art tools, well, you’ve already got a wealth of knowledge and experience that nobody else does. You’re ahead of the game.

Going back in time with what you know now might give you the biggest leg up in the jobs market. Create an amazing portfolio, making sure to limit yourself to the techniques possible in 1995, and you could have a huge advantage. In 1995, people are still trying to figure things out. You come from 2017. Your era has it WAY more figured out. Technically, you no longer face the challenges that they’re up against. You can hit the ground running. Again, because you limited yourself to 90s techniques (eg map sizes and poly counts), you can perform as well as you auditioned.

Maintenance of all that hardware and software is the trickiest bit. Film is your hardest to enter industry with in-house content creation being the easiest and game dev somewhere in the middle. There’s always the issue of formats and such, but that’s far easier to overcome than the basic logistics of using time travel to get ahead. It’ll be one giant cover up after another.


I know that this little though experiment presupposes that time travel is possible, but let’s just look at it a bit deeper.

Let’s start with the argument that time travel is impossible or highly improbable and why.

When we discuss time travel, we think of going forwards AND backwards in time. Einstein certainly left the door open for that. We’ve definitely mastered forward time travel. Space travelers are “off” by a fraction of a second compared to Earth locked people.

Backwards time travel is far more problematic. I’m not just talking about the math, which requires some very specific circumstances. There’s the basic physics of it. Recent studies into how atoms work have shown that atoms aren’t perfect spheres. They are not symmetrical like we once thought. They’re just a bit blobby. This creates a problem for time travel, which requires symmetry around an origin point (PAST-now-FUTURE). Space and time are tied into one another.

Also, when was the last time we met a real deal time traveler or seen his/her real deal time machine? Even the most popular stories like John Titor’s have been debunked time and again.

Even IF time travel to the past were possible, can you imagine the amount of energy required to achieve it? What about the potential requirement of exotic matter? We might well have to destroy a small star for one trip. In such a case, time travel to the past might as well not even be a thing. The cost could just be too high.

Let’s make the case for backwards time travel now.

Einstein also predicted gravity waves. Of all the things that he predicted, this was the most elusive one to prove. It was only recently that we did though and we found out some very interesting stuff. The LIGO found out that relativity as we know it falls apart and goes totally ape under extreme conditions like the ones observed during the collision of two black holes. This means that there’s a lot of “strange” science waiting to be discovered. The rules and conditions that would have prevented backwards time travel might no longer apply in these extreme conditions. That said, because we’re now in territory not necessarily governed by relativistic physics, somebody will have to figure out the new rules in those conditions - assuming that there’s any predictability.

If backwards time travel IS possible, why have we never met a time traveler or seen their time machine then?

Maybe there’s no time machine to show. Do you take a doorway with you? No you only pass through it. Maybe there’s no portal to show because maybe the door only swings one way. Pass through and it closes. Time travel might only be a one way journey like in Terminator. Maybe the portal stays open, but it can only be observed head on. I think that Hawking once argued the point of view dependent phenomena. It could be that only the time traveler knows how and where to view it.

Maybe there IS a time machine to show, but the time traveler is one smart cookie and has hidden it. Maybe it’s orbital or just out of orbit because the requirements can’t be met within the Earth’s atmosphere. Maybe it was dismantled or destroyed. Maybe it no longer works, having come from an origin point with slightly different physics.

How about the time traveler himself? Where is he and why haven’t we met him?

Time Traveler Bill (TTB) makes all of these wild predictions for the future. None of it comes true. Wait a second. He’s from the future. Why didn’t any of what he predicted cme to pass?

  1. Maybe his mere presence had a ripple effect and changed things.

  2. Maybe telling us what would happen caused us to prevent it from happening.

  3. Maybe he wrongly made the assumption that time uses the “one world theory” where the Grandfather Paradox would be a thing; Kill your grandfather and you cease to exist, but how can you kill your grandfather if you never existed. Instead, however, the universe uses the “multiple worlds” theory where you’re not actually killing your grandfather. No. True travel back in time is impossible because your presence creates a fork in the road, a splinter in the timeline. You only think that you’re killing your grandfather. In fact, you’re killing the man who would be your dupe’s grandfather. Your dupe will never be born. You’ll be okay. SO… In predicting the future, nothing comes true because, technically, you come from an alternate future. You come from a timeline where your grandfather was never killed before your father was conceived. What happened in your past might not happen in the past you find yourself in.

  4. Maybe we just think that all time travelers are crazy and we ignore anything they say, which most often tends to be pretty vague or generic.


For all we know, we could travel to the past with all of our current knowledge, hardware, and software and NONE of it will make any difference. If we go by the multiple world’s theory, our past may not be exactly the one we arrive in. Maybe tech develops just a bit differently, thus making what we know worthless. Of course, because it’s not our past and thus mutable, we can change things. However, what would the ramifications be?

We look at Pixar as just a company that has made some movies. Imagine stopping Pixar dead in their tracks after Toy Story. What of the people who would have been employed? What of the charities they would have contributed to? What of their overall impact? Are you prepared to carry the torch, do exactly what they did, and preserve the core elements that made up your future? It’s a heavy burden with a lot of moving parts.

You going back into the past would ripple forward. Even if you’re only a minor success, your impact could be massive. And if you were to fail on an epic level… Your failure might doom the CG industry as you know it.

Of course, people could argue that the past cannot be altered and nothing you do would have any effect. Time would always find a way to stay on course. Try to stab your grandfather and the knife would slip. Try to push him down the stairs and you yourself might fall instead. I have a HUGE problem with this though. The implication here is that everything is predetermined and that nothing you do will ever have any effect on changing destiny. If you’re destined to become a success then it’ll happen no matter what. Destined to be a failure? It won’t matter how hard you try then. That’s no way to live life. Plus, it means that nothing can ever be random, which TOTALLY screws with all sorts of other math & science.


The hardware of a single computer is of little value, its the machines that were able to manufacture it that are of worth.

Despite computers and software getting better, things haven’t really changed that much. The quality has got better and that quality is now much more accessible, but CGI is still incredibly time-consuming.
It is theoretically possible for anyone in 2016 with a decent gaming PC to create the film “Toy Story”, but it would require so much time, that you’d have to be rich anyway and if you were rich, you’d be a producer and get other people to do the manual labour for you.

I think the money would lie in TV and advertising. Smoke and fluids look impressive and yet require only a small amount of a persons time. You could create a “Crazy Frog” and conquer the emerging mobile phone market with a basic animation.

Better off wining the lottery, hiring people to make the film for you and then going back in time again with that film to show in 1995. Except it would be about ego only as with “Deflation?” You’d earn less than if you showed it present day and you’d have a marketing problem.


I guess in 1995 one could make a decent living doing flying logos in realtime with a hardware from 2016.


Instead of using the system to create shiny logos 24/7, I’d sell it to Mr. Huang at then newly-formed Nvidia with a nice backend stock deal and retire.


Thank you! I’m still searching for options to become successful in this field, be it even a slightest chance.
I don’t know about gaming industry. I think I want to aim high. As games of that time had very few polygons. So even if I use zbrush and mari, they will still look not very good. Just look at Quake 2 models.
Though some games used pretty good-looking models, but they were released in 2000-2002. So if I could find a studio, which would start a next-gen project, maybe I would be in demand.


The idea of traveling back in time has long fascinated humans, such as in Back to television shows the idea that we could travel back in time to alter the past. Positive and negative energy fluctuations can create minuscule, As for backwards time travel, it is possible to find solutions in general relativity that allow for it, but the solutions require conditions that may not be physically possible.


When people talk about time travel they always conveniently leave out that the earth, the entire solar system, is not where it was then. Even traveling back a few moments would put you in a very different place than where you were.


I think the main thing that would benefit you would be knowledge. Unfortunately, while I could describe the software in use today to people 20 or 30 years ago I would not be much use in causing it to arrive any earlier. This used to be one of my favorite mental exercises though. It made me realize how many things in the modern world the average person has little understanding of. I mean it would be great to explain bacteria and the spread of disease to people living before the plague, or to take a periodic table back to DaVinci’s time or to give Newton Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Taking tech back is problematic for all of the reasons outlined above. I think you’d really only have to take one or two things back that were the foundation for what logically followed. But how many of us could go back to the 1890s and build a working airplane (or even explain the mechanics of lift), or to the 1700s and explain how the lightbulb and electric motor work (or even the difference between AC and DC)? Without demonstrative proof of anything you know to be possible, people might just think you are insane.


The government would confiscate your 2019 Workstation, crack open the CPU, GPU and RAM packages under a tunneling electron microscope, and your 2019 hardware would be reverse engineered in a laboratory.

By the year 2000, your 2019 hardware would be in shops, so you would effectively have pushed computer hardware development forward 20 years.


Something tells me they perhaps could comprehend how it’s made, but wouldn’t be able to create technological process required for such a filigree subject as processors.


The military field tends to get high-high-tech electronics decades before consumers do.

So don’t be so sure that in 1995, “nobody could actually produce a Core i9 or Xeon CPU”.

With enough money and smart brains it probably could be done.