In Back to the Future Part II, Old Biff stole the time machine in 2015 and went back in time to give the Grays Sports Almanac to Young Biff. This journey was successful.

The time machine wasn't a common thing found on every crossing, so how was he able to operate it? Driving a flying car could be easy, but what about the time circuits and required speed? I don't think there was a quick start manual inside the time machine. Even a genius could be confused and fearful of the consequences of incorrect operation. But that wasn't the case with old Biff.

Do you have an explanation?

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    As Ben pointed out in his answer, Old Biff had already seen the car time travel once and saw that it was after it got up to speed that it did. Everything else is self explanatory.
    – NominSim
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 15:28
  • @NominSim A running Helicopter is dropping bomb, it doesn't mean that its speed is mandatory for bombardment.
    – user931
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 13:21
  • No...but if you see something happen at a certain speed and want to replicate what happened...one of the first things you should do is get to that speed...
    – NominSim
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:06
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    I was always wondering how old Biff ended up in the same timeline he left from, after changing the past. Marty changed the past and ended up in a new timeline.
    – Pieter B
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:17
  • @Pieter See this: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/9892/…
    – user931
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


A genius likely would be cautious of the unintended consequences in pushing the wrong button. But an ignoramus, like Biff, wouldn't be, because they wouldn't be able to conceive of horrible alternate outcomes.
So once he haphazardly figured out how to set the destination date Biff probably just gunned it as fast as he could (because who doesn't like fast cars) and eventually hit 88 MPH.

  • 6
    Really, really good point about genius vs. ignoramus! Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:48
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    It's also worth remembering that this was in 'The future!' -- even severe Luddites tend to learn the basics of technology to be able to survive; grandparents who scoff at 'Them damn smartphones' have learned to use old flip-phones, which 15 years ago they would have said they would never use. The operation of the car wasn't terribly complicated (and the time controls were labeled) So, other than figuring out 88 mph, there wasn't much for even a grumpy old man to figure out. With it equipped with flight, also, hitting 88 mph was a lot more likely even without knowing of the need to.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 19:38

In the Back to the Future movie we see Old Biff fly off in the DeLorean, but we don't see him time travel, we just see him land the car upon his return. He could have flown it to his place and spent some time figuring out how it worked (maybe his son/daughter helped him:) After all in the first Back to the Future novel it said took younger Doc about an hour to discover how to operate it ("An hour later after figuring out how the DeLorean time machine worked, Doc opened the suitcase containing his 1985 belongings)

Also Old Biff would remember seeing the DeLorean travel to the future outside Marty's house in 1985 and that it needed to get up to a great speed before it vanished, so he would likely just accelerate until the time travel kicked in.


The Back to the Future comic series by IDW may not be movie-level canon, but this is answered in Issue 3, in a story called Jurassic Biff.

Comic panel of Old Biff shaking his cane at a fleeing dinosaur

Old Biff steals the DeLorean and takes off with it. He tries to use voice control, a switch, and the keypad, until he loses patience and whacks the time circuits with his cane while flying, causing the time travel effect to trigger and sending him to prehistoric times. From there he chases down a dinosaur that stole his almanac, then stuffs the dinosaur into Mr. Fusion to fuel his next trip (he knew about Mr. Fusion because it's a common device in 2015). At this point he's finally noticed the keypad and uses it to go to 1955.

  • I need to see these panels! Must have been a pretty small dinosaur!
    – Skooba
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 12:47
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    The Mr. Fusion has been filled with the raptor’s body by Biff. - sounds downright gruesome! Thanks for the update!
    – Skooba
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 17:39
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    @Skooba I tried to find that panel but unfortunately my copy is somewhere in storage - I think all you see is a tail or foot poking out of the fusion chamber, but I'll update if I find it!
    – Milo P
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 17:42

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