Saturday’s Six: Wacky Inventors from 80’s Movies

One of the things I love about the 80’s was that everyone became absolutely infatuated with technology.  Computers, robots, spaceships, insane science — there seemed to be no limit to what mankind could create.  Movies echoed this, and the Wacky Inventor rose to the prominence in this decade. The Inventor would always have a gadget on hand that could do… anything!

Here are six such inventors who we’d like to gather together for a brain trust.

1. Doc Brown, Back to the Future

Nevermind that he built a nuclear-powered time machine out of a quirky sports car — what always endeared the Doc to me was his penchant for making models to explain his convoluted plans (“I’m sorry they’re not to scale”).  But seriously, this guy was a limitless font of ideas — brain scanning machines, giant stereo speakers, ice cube makers and the like.

2. Wayne Szalinski, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Two of the key traits of 80’s wacky inventors is that they had to be equal parts genius and criminally irresponsible.  Szalinski typified both by building a physics-defying shrinking machine in his attic, and then putting absolutely no safeties on it whatsoever.  His kids were never found again.

3. Data, The Goonies

Data’s role in the Goonies was gadget man — he literally had a gadget for every situation, no matter how ridiculous.  And unlike many other inventors, Data’s creations were pretty low-tech (springs featured big), which made them seem kind of plausible to us young ‘uns in the audience.

4. Egon, Ghostbusters

If you’re a scientist, then you probably adore Ghostbusters.  Here’s a movie where the city becomes under siege by paranormal spectres, and a group of scientists take one look at it and go, “Yeah, we’ll build a couple gadgets to contain that.  No sweat.”  Egon was definitely the key inventor, however, and his deadpan delivery turned the ridiculous into the acceptable.

5. The students of Real Genius

Even braniacs have to party, and the kids at Pacific Tech were just as likely to use their skills to prank each other or throw parties as they were to do productive science.  Plus, how cool would it be to have your own underground lair, complete with a amusement park-style ride leading to it?

6. Randall Peltzer, Gremlins

Although his penchant for invention was seen as a burden by his family, every kid in the 80’s would’ve killed to have a dad who constantly cooked up weird gizmos (get it?) like Randall Peltzer.  And c’mon, everyone needs a Bathroom Buddy!

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