Joe, the average Worldbuilder accidentally slips through time sixteen years back. From September 11, 2016 to September 11, 2000. He gave saving the World Trade Center a thought, but then he decided to be a bit selfish.

He searched through his pockets and this is what he found:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with 64GB microSD card in it
  • USB 3.0 flash drive with 128 GB capacity
    • Containing work documents and two movies released in 2015 (of your choice)
  • Swiss Army pocket knife
  • Keys from his apartment
  • Keys to his car, Toyota Camry build 2006
  • Wallet containing:
    • 100 USD in cash (small banknotes, issued through 2012 - 2016)
    • Two credit cards valid to 2020
    • Driver's licence

Joe quickly realized that it will take another fifteen years of development till his phone will see light.

So, he decided to be selfish and earn some money by selling his phone to the highest bidder. But the question is: How much can you earn by selling your tech sixteen years in the past?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ I think that a company having access to it would offer no clue as to how to build it. Smaller feature size ontpar with the roadmap for tbat time: so what? How do you build a fab that can make such a thing? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ In my current time loop i just find out where natural resources located that are not yet descovered in the time i m going :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 12:10

21 Answers 21


Very, Very Rich, but it will take time and nobody can know that he is from the future

The stuff he brought with him is effectively worthless because there is no way to show somebody in 2000 technology from 16 years in the future whilst hiding the fact that it is from the future. How are you going to explain away the fact that Joe (Random guy) has somehow invented, perfected and created technology that is literally 100x better than anything the biggest, most expensive R&D labs in the world can produce?

So, you cannot sell your future stuff, because as soon as anybody knows (or suspects) that you are from the future, you're going to find yourself hunted by every corporation, billionaire and intelligence agency on the planet.

How much do you think (to take an example) the US govt. would be willing to do to find out the details of every major war and terror attack for the next 2 decades? If you think the US wouldn't torture you to find out, then also consider the Chinese and the Russians.

So, that is rule #1: You absolutely have to keep everything to yourself.

Personally, I recommend Joe destroys and incinerates everything that came back in time with him (possessions, clothes, jewellry).

Update: He is going to have a really hard time starting out

As pointed out by @vsz in the comments, Joe isn't going to have a legal identity when he arrives in 2000 because past-Joe is already using it. This means that Joe is going to be, for all intents and purposes (and in a very real sense) an undocumented illegal immigrant.

He is going to have to find cash for food and shelter, and then find and pay a forger a lot of money to create an identity for him, and *then* he can do all of the below and become obscenely rich.

Assuming he manages to do that at all. He's in the same precarious position that all undocumented illegal immigrants are in: If you get caught even once then it's game over, and earning any cash at all, let alone enough to buy a new identity is going to be really difficult and/or risky.

Possible solution: have future-joe find past-joe and convince him that you're from the future and you should work together on this

This strategy is risky (If past joe reports him to the police: game over) but solves all of future-joe's other problems. You'd find past-joe, show him your amazing futuristic smartphone, tell him the deepest darkest secrets that nobody else could possibly know about the 2 of you, and convince him to work together with you. He can provide cash and a legal identity, you provide knowledge of the future and using the below, you both become obscenely rich.

So, how to make money

The truly valuable thing that Joe has is his knowledge of the future. The most lucrative information would be knowledge of financial markets (market runs, crashes, companies that shot up/down in value). If joe had a job in finance that exposed him to that kind of information on a regular basis, that would work out particularly well for him.

But even if he wasn't particularly interested in financial markets, your average person will remember particularly big events (the dotcom crash, the 2007/08 crash, the irag/afghanistan wars, 9/11). They'll know the names of big companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix, Amazon etc.) and be in a position to "get in early".

- The dotom crash is just getting started when Joe arrives. If he does nothing but keep betting that the stock market will go down for the next year, he wil make an awful lot of money.
- Apple's stock price increased 100x from 2004 to today
- From its' IPO in 2004, google is up over 20x
- Amazon's stock price increased 100x from 2001 to today
- Facebook is up almost 10x just in the last 3 years
- Tesla jumped almost 10x from 2013 to 2014
- Lehman brothers was worth \$50 Billion in 2007, and \$0 18 months later.
- Enron was trading at \$60 Billion when joe arrives, and will be bankrupt within a year

You get the idea. Joe doesn't have to know the exact numbers, he just has to remember that these things are going to happen and act accordingly.

Additionally, your guy could make a lot of money in the betting market (betting on who wins the US presidential elections, who wins major sporting events, etc. etc.)

This won't make him a ton of money *immediately* (unless he has a really good memory for sporting events circa 2000), but the presidential election is coming up in November. The dotcom bubble is about to burst. There's probably some major sporting event he might remember the outcome of.

If I were joe, I'd borrow some money (say, $10,000) and go make some bets on events he remembers that wouldn't attract attention, probably sports and the election (correctly predicting 9/11 would attract a *lot* of attention. So just don't go there.).

It will take a while to get super rich, and a lot of it won't come until later on, when you get closer to recent memory and more events that he remembers the outcome of come close enough to make bets on. Things like, say, Bitcoin (10,000 BTC bought you a pizza in 2009, and $8 Million just four years later.)

But he should get reasonably rich reasonably quick and things will just keep snowballing from there.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:07

Joe will do himself a huge disservice waving future-tech about, no matter if he does it openly or covertly. Because it will not take long before he has goons of all sorts on his arse, wanting to capture and interrogate him about the upcoming 15 years of history. If Joe is the least bit paranoid (i.e. he has a sense of self-preservation), he will quickly realize that making a quick buck off of his phone(*) is a really bad idea. Small gains, and a huge risk.

So, if he instead thinks in long terms and strategy...


Patent the concept of a smart-phone, or any of the hundreds of innovations in a smartphone that have not been patented yet. Set a lump licensing cost of anything up to $1 for every unit sold.

Also I think Steve Jobs might be interested to know this little thing about his health, and what will not work in curing him. That will probably be worth something to him.

(*) ...which by the way he cannot change because the micro-USB port charger is still several years away. Also remember that Windows 2000 just came out. Windows 2000 could not read USB disks larger than 32 GB..

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 21:01

As rich as he wants to be

Kaz's answer is good, but it fails to maximize the potential of the temporal paradox Joe finds himself in. Note this strategy does carry some degree of risk.

Create a stable time loop

In 16 years time if Joe did not mess up the timeline too much, then his younger self is going to be getting time slipped into the past. As such Joe can subtly or not so subtly intervene with this event to maximize his profit (depending on the risks and what causes the time slip).

During Joe's first run through those 16 years he needs to take some very good notes on:

  • People who he was able to trust and who to avoid
  • Things to do and what not to do
  • Key information on events
  • Lottery and financial information

Right before Joe the younger gets sent back, Joe the older secretly or overtly gives Joe the younger the notebook and any other care package items that will assist him in his endeavor. The notebook instructs Joe the younger to keep the cycle going, and to make the notebook again with the same or better care package of items. With each iteration Joe refines the information, including information on loops that do not go well and items he passes along until it stabilizes and he is rich within the limits of keeping the loop stable.

General notes

During the first sixteen years Joe will need to keep a low profile until he can take over his original life. He will look old for his age, but that is common enough that it could be dismissed.

It will be extremely beneficial to Joe to try and learn more about the time slip and determine if it was a natural event or if he was a factor (like he wished it). If it is a natural event (and I use that term loosely) then Joe has a greater freedom of meddling with it, since all that is needed is for Joe the younger to be in the right place at the right time. However, if it was will based, then Joe needs to determine how his will caused it to find the full extent of the power, and how to properly trigger it to ensure Joe the younger reliably gets sent back to keep the loop going, even if Joe the older badly messes up the timeline.

Age factor

Joe's starting age plays a huge factor in this story.

15 years old:

Not even being a full on adult yet really limits what he can do. Can't take out loans or easily borrow. There is a chance that depending on his exact age he might not have even been conceived yet. So if he causes a big enough butterfly effect he could risk not being born. Which in turn causes a mess of temporal mechanics, which is best to avoid.

30 years old:

He would be 14 years old in 2000. This means that Joe would still have to be careful since he could drastically change his future and result in him not being at the correct place at the correct time for the time slip.

42 years old:

His other self would be 26 years old after the time slip. At that age he likely could interact with his younger self and make sure that Joe the younger is in the correct place at the correct time (assuming this is not Doctor Who temporal mechanics, which interacting with your other self typically is bad). The benefit to this is he could fix 16 years of mistakes he made while becoming rich. Also, he can use his younger self for cover for his extreme luck and success.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the time loop idea. $\endgroup$
    – Kaz
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ The issue I've always had with giving an object of yours to your younger self who will then give it to your younger self again and again in a loop, is the wear and tear. How damaged will the notebook be at any given time? Is it indestructible? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ The notebook or jump drive should have instructions as to where the given notebook or jump drive was purchased so that the younger self can purchase the same notebook or jump drive during their pass. $\endgroup$
    – Anketam
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 23:25

I honestly think it wouldn't yield as much as you'd expect, or at the very least be quite a bit harder to gain money from the technology you're carrying with you. Since the phone carries a brand existing in the time "Joe" went to, that brand is most likely to purchase it. Other companies will likely suspect you're a corporate spy and notify the authorities. Then there is the problem of actually convincing people that your tech is legit. You have no inside knowledge of the tech you're trying to sell and are basically saying: "Here is some stuff, go figure out how to use it yourself" as you're likely to lack the schematics.

However, if you are a cunning businessman or have at least some grasp of how to cut a business deal. And managed to convince some company the technology you have is legit and the company is willing to spend the research and development into pursuing the applications of the technology you offer. It will launch whichever company gets their hands onto your tech forwards to instantly become the market leader, pretty much guaranteeing a monopoly since the tech you delivered is years ahead of the competitors. Getting a percentage of the sales will get you millions.

  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that any deal you attempt to make has no legal protection and as such you're as likely to get nothing out of it as you are to make a big win. If you could get some legal protection on it you could just license it and make billions that way. $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ There's one more slight issue. Its name is Novikov self-consistency principle. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ I actually think the phone wouldn't be difficult for the engineers to understand. There's no weird law of physics or something that stands as a barrier to developing smartphones in 2016. Mostly just the idea and the cost of touchscreen technology. The flash drive would probably fetch a decent sum on ebay (man, you'd have to go back to ebay...) but ultimately the problem of making storage smaller isn't solved by seeing how they do it in the future; it's solved by using your current tech to make smaller tech iteratively, so don't expect sandisk to pay big bucks for it. $\endgroup$
    – Devsman
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDvorak ...which has never been tested or experimented with, and remains nothing more than a hypothesis. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDvorak In those days nobody knew the concept of mass-energy either. $\endgroup$
    – cst1992
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 13:39

Joe, the average Worldbuilder...

... How much can you earn

Just a few years in prison, I think. Too few people realise, how BAD Joe's initial situation actually is (if it would happen in real world).

TL;DR: The first "may I see your IDs, Sir?" can turn into roughly 10-20 years of imprisonment just because of things in his pockets, unless he's able to convince judge he's from future. However this is not the wisest thing to do (as mentioned in other answers).

The "may I see your IDs, Sir?" moment is very likely to happen sooner than later, because:

Joe has no valid id's.

Photo on Driver's licence (if it's issued before 2000) would look young, it would state a "young" age, however person, handing it would look too old for it to be legit. It can actually work only in cases when Joe's real age is something about 46, when the appearence age changes between 46 and 30 are not too drastical.

Joe has literally no money.

Cash is worthless and, (as mentioned in comments) even dangerous as it would be considered counterfeit. His credit cards can go right into trash can, as they were issued later and will be useless for another 16 years (also they will look suspicious to any official/police officer).

Joe has no place to live.

His car is not even built yet. His appartment is either not built or is lived in by someone else. Having a keys to someone's appartments, when they don't even know you is a suspicious thing too, however "I just found those keys on the street" can probably work with police.

Joe has nowhere to go.

His trustworthy friends are either not trustworthy yet, or (in case if Joe is old enough to have good friends with more than 19-20 years of friendship experience) will be hard to convince to help. Just imagine a nice looking man, which has some resemblance with your friend standing at your door, asking for help (food/place to live) and NOT TO TELL ANYBODY about him.

Joe can't sell his hi-tech devices for "research" purposes.

That was already mentioned before: Samsung can claim, that Joe have stolen their prototype from a lab and get the device for free. Basically he can only sell his smartphone/USB drive covertly to some geek as an expensive toy. The price would depend solely on buyer's personality and Joe's ability to trade.

The same goes for movies on his usb. The only way to sell them is to find some people in internet, ask for money, and hope they're not undercover FBI agents.

Joe can't actually use his "memory" to trade on stock to become rich.

This is called "trading with insider info", is a crime and is carefully investigated. ESPECIALLY when some John Doe with zer0 experience in stock trading goes "big short" and wins. However some sports betting with not-so-big amounts of money would work. Stock trading with low bets will work too, however to get reasonably rich he'll need to remember a lot of big "shoots" and "bursts".


Even survivng his first days depends solely on Joe's background/life experience. It would be easier to him, if he was at some point in his life "a bad boy" (knows places, where people will give money for dirty job and won't ask for IDs) and almost impossible if he's law abiding citizen (read "Joe, the average Worldbuilder").

P.S.: Joe can't sell his Swiss Army pocket knife

I missed this. This is actually the most useful and unsuspicious thing at his disposal at the start of his adventure. Joe should never ever think about selling such a tool, taking in account the whole situation.


As the others have said, going for the stock market is the best investment. However, to do that you need a little bit of cash to begin with, for which you will need a job. However, this would be quite hard to aquire; it seems like you don't have any documents. So maybe meet up with the 15 year younger you from the past, convince him/her that it is you from the future by sharing all the personal stories and desires that you hadn't told anyone else, and go from there.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't need a job. You just something to trade. Like one red paperclip $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 21:23

Stock market insider knowledge would net you more than any of your other ideas. It would also be more selfish.

  • $\begingroup$ however, the necessary storage space to hold enough financial data to be useful would be in the terrabytes, my phone only has 64 gig.. also by partaking in the market, he would affect the market, thus rendering future date useless $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ If you wanted to day trade and get stupendously rich, sure. But just knowing in general when the 2008 crash was going to happen would be enough to make you more rich than you need to be. $\endgroup$
    – Lee Saxon
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ Going to the library, you could spend 2-3 days looking at stock listings and find the ones that are missing and get in on the IPOs. You need a backer or a ton of cash, like right now though. You can also find the ones that surged out of the dotcom boom and buy them too. And you know the ones that will crash as well. Once you have something in a portfolio, you'll be able to short sell the lemons. $\endgroup$
    – Xalorous
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Cursed1701 You'd be shocked how many issues of the Wall Street Journal, in text format, would fit in 64 Gigs. However, we don't walk around with archives of WSJ. Just knowing a few names that become the big dogs, you can make immense amounts in the market, and it won't affect the market unless you let yourself be pegged as 'richest man in the world' then everyone shadows your moves, the way they do Buffet. Me, I'd take enough out of the market to live life without stress, and retire. $\endgroup$
    – Xalorous
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 22:57

The two movies should be Jurassic World and Inside Out. These are two of the top four grossing movies of 2015, and both were special effects heavy. They would be extremely difficult to make in 2000.

You might also consider Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those are both in the middle of series. You wouldn't be able to sell them until closer to 2015 when the actors are old enough to appear in sequels. The other two can be released alone.

I'm unconvinced that you can make significant money reverse engineering your phone. The best idea may be to sign up with someone to patent the innovations from the phone. Then you can make money as others invent the same things. It would be different if you had data on manufacturing techniques, but you just have the phone itself. They won't know how to make it in 2000.

Shorting stocks before the dotcom crash can magnify your funds relatively quickly. Note that shorting is limited only by your ability to borrow. It gives you money. It's covering the short at the end that costs money.


I don't think you'll have much luck selling sophisticated technology just 16 years in the past.

They had smartphones and tablets on TNG. The Apple Newton came out in 1993. The problem was fabrication, not concept. A microprocessor powerful enough to run a worthwhile smartphone would've been to large and hot to fit in a smartphone. And the only way to change that is node shrinks (making the wires of which the CPU is comprised thinner and closer together), which requires you to invent a bunch of other stuff.

I think year-2000 Samsung would tell you, "well, duh, handheld computer, that's exactly what we're already planning to do as soon as ARM can build a CPU that can fit inside that size and temperature envelope. Seeing proof that such a thing is possibly doesn't do much to help us get there any faster." Maybe seeing exactly how the current model's CPU was laid out would save them some development time, but meh.

Now, the battery, believe it or not, may be different. Lithium Ion, which is required to give meaningful battery life to a device this powerful without, again, getting too large and hot, wasn't really affordable yet in 2000. Chemistry breakthroughs over the next few years that made that possible were in that "new idea/invention, but not new manufacturing or fabrication technology" (ie "reverse-engineerable") category which is the sweet spot for time travel speculators.

But ideally? Get some velcro and go back to 1930.


Well, let's throw out what's going to be worthless (or next to).

Car/Apartment Keys
Credit Cards
Driver's License
Swiss Army Knife

And you're left with your phone and your USB stick. If you assume those films are encoded in a format that's readable 15 years ago (not likely), you'd need to know the right people in order to make any kind of money out of them. You probably won't be able to walk into a major studio and pitch them right off the bat (they'll assume that someone else made them and that you're pirating unreleased material).

The phone may have value. But you'll need to demonstrate a legitimate reason for owning what appears to be a prototype device. Walking into Samsung and saying you have a phone from the future will just raise eyebrows and possibly get you ejected rather quickly.

The USB stick itself may be of interest in terms of the larger capacity (assuming the OS can address that much storage). Since there's no USB 3.0 ports back then, it'll look and act exactly the same as existing flash disks.

Unfortunately, in order to convince technologists, you have to convince them that you're a technologist who has invented a particular component.

For real money, you need to get a job, and use the money to buy shares in key IPO offerings.

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    $\begingroup$ actually, he's there a year before the twin tower attacks. those were in 2001. $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ You're right. I'll edit. $\endgroup$
    – user10945
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ And good call with the IPOs - Facebook was founded in '04. Maybe during the next 5 years you can get in a bit more money and invest that into whatsApp - founded in '09, sold in '14 for 19 billion dollars. Those are two that joe might remember making it big so he could look out for them appearing even if he doesn't remember the dates... Though, that initial money? especially with probably not-yet-valid ID papers? That might be an issue, along with getting some initial money^^ $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ Why is the cash useless? Even though they're issued in the future, the design of 1 dollar bills hasn't changed during the period. 1 dollar bills are still "small banknotes", and i'm sure that if you walked up to a small store and asked for some 20s for your 1s, nobody would look too closely at them $\endgroup$
    – Kevin L
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ The Swiss Army Knife. It's not worthless, it's invaluable. You can't sell it for more than maybe 20-40 bucks even if it's a fancy variant, but who would do that anyway? Having a pocket-sized tool box with you will save you money on equipment, repairs and by repurposing all kinds of things. It makes your life easier and can even help you survive in the wilderness if you must, for example when the authorities are after you to extort knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – Estharon
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 11:38

The Phone and Flash drive would be worth a maximum of a few billion if you could patent the technology and license or reproduce it. You likely can't so it's likely worth a couple hundred million at best, a piece.

The movies, would likely be the most valuable thing you have if you can sell them to the studio that originally made them. Just put your price under their price for most of the production costs and you likely can score several hundred million from each.

The knife and keys are worthless...

The money, credit cards, and license can put you in jail so I'd destroy them, but you could also use them to try to convince someone time travel is real... or sell to a crackpot time travel enthusiast. If you convince someone time travel is real that's dangerous but can net you a comfortable life for the rest of your life as a celebrity... or assassinated. A crackpot, likely will give you more than the money's face value, but not much...Maybe a few thousand.

So I'd say the maximum amount you are going to get out of that is a billion dollars if you are smart and lucky. If not, you can still get a few million from the movies minimum if they play ball because it will save them money.

Another source of income that you might be able to get is the cache of the smartphone. If Joe accessed the net, went to various sites, and didn't erase the cache before time traveling it is likely that data is on his phone still and if he's a businessman or anything tech related then those cached sites likely hold valuable information.

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    $\begingroup$ The only problem with patents, to my understanding, is that you need to be able to demonstrate how the technology works. Unless Joe is skilled in electronics he'd have a very hard time doing so. $\endgroup$
    – SGR
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ The movies on the phone would have far worse quality than the studios need; they will still have to shoot the films. You can maybe get a few hundred bucks for providing them the results of casting and the used scenes, but that's it. $\endgroup$
    – user8808
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Oh yeah, movies use like 4k or 8k don't they? But you'd still be able to make more money than that if you could push you're from the future because the fact that those stars are relevant 16 years later would be bankable information. $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ @SGR you have to describe how they work, and it's best to have technical drawings. You're right though, having the item only it would be difficult to patent it. *especially since it has a brand name on it, and the inside is full of items with patent numbers on them. $\endgroup$
    – Xalorous
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ The items are definitely more trouble than they're worth. You might get small bills to pass, but anything that's a redesigned note is trash, as currency. Credit cards are basically counterfeit, same with the license. The movies are dangerous. They're actually really good proof that you came from the future, if you could get them out of the phone. You might have to wait for Bluetooth or mini USB to manage that though. $\endgroup$
    – Xalorous
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 23:03

His tech is likely going to be impossible to profit from unless he's a genius engineer who understands how to build all of the underlying tech.

Even in the best case scenario where he's able to get a meeting with someone who might buy the phone from him, theres no compelling reason to pay him for it. Somebody just has to hit him with a $5 wrench and take it. Whats he going to do? Go to court? He doesnt exist. He'll end up in jail for stealing the identity of his younger self. Everyone will assume he stole the phone in the first place. The company could even claim that it was their own internal prototype all along. Without knowledge of how the underlying tech works he'd have no way to show ownership.

Based on your description, his only possession of actual value is whatever he can remember from the timeline. His best bet is gambling on whether events he knows will happen will occur. Thus this question starts to rely heavily on his memory. Is he a sports fan? Big upset victories that he can recall might be a good place to start.

Investing could be even more profitable, but requires more money to get started. It could also be more dangerous given his lack of a legitimate identity. He would need to be already wealthy enough to hide behind intermediaries so that nobody realizes that whatever backstory he's made up is fake.

  1. Contact younger self.
  2. Younger self will fund investment pool using strategy outlined in Kaz's answer. That is, taking advantage of now generally known booms and busts to buy/short outrageous positions.

I have though about this, and I think the answer is, that this phone is at the very best something for a collector or some kind of a proto-type to show off or collect funding with.

Additionally the software on that phone is utterly useless, as the OS it's running isn't invented or supported and any hardware breaking on it like the screen cannot be repaired.

The technology of a smartphone, eventhough very advanced is most likely useless even for most reverse engineering.

Realistically everyone in 2000 already knew that computers were to become smaller and smaller.

The smartphone itself is probably of very little interest.

The thing that is worth a lot is the process and the tools necessary to manufacture it, but those cannot be deduced from reverse engineering. And the tools necessary to use the processes and create the materials involved still would have to be invented.

In other words, this tech would not have any positive inpact in our timeline, it may even be actively harmful by pointing researchers and companies into directions that they cannot implement yet.

And a patent without a detailed description of the manufacturing process and the composition of the tech is not possible afaik, atleast in europe.

The only thing that would be interesting is the software on it, as it can be reverse engineered and help them design better layouts earlier, but even that is unlikely as running the responsive animated layouts on computers and small devices requires processing power that is not available in 2000. Additionally introducing new layouts from 2016 into 2000 would probably bankrupt any company, just because their perception was bad in modern times when there was a practical reason for them. In 2000 without a practical reason for those layouts companies would probably anger and loose a lot of customers.

Overall 2000 is too early to really profit from the tech in a meaningful way. I think 2002-2005 may be a bit better suited or even 2008.


None of the stuff in your pockets will make you very rich, as the other answers have outlined.

Your most valuable possession is knowledge, and the first thing you should do is sit down and write down as much as you can remember.

The stock market is a good bet if you can remember some key data. Selling short just before the crash could make you very rich very fast. You probably don't remember the exact date, but you might remember enough of the early warning signs to jump in when everyone else is still thinking it may not happen.

Also, if you are fast enough, you could still sell airline stocks short on the same day and make some starting money.

Bitcoin was mentioned, as were several IPOs. You can also fly to Britain where an intense betting culture allows you to bet on virtually anything, and you could make a ton of money betting on future wars, terror attacks and other events you remember.

Your primary problem would be how to get started. As it seems from your list, you actually have nothing. The money you need to spend carefully (if someone checks the date, they will think it's forged) and most of the rest you can't use nor sell.

So the answer to your actual question is: Probably nothing. Selling your tech is more likely to land you in jail than to make you rich.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the mention of money. This means if he spends the money the banks computers will recognize it as forged. Or otherwise recognize that it's from the future, which would cause them to try and track down the time traveler. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 12:35

Alas, your phone will be out of juice within a day or so since you didn't bring a charger and the micro-USB isn't developed until 2007.

Sports betting is probably the fastest way to make $$$, hopefully you have some sort of sports database on your phone or at least remember big games like the world series and the superbowl.

Any books downloaded, or MUSIC? Imagine how simple it would be to reverse engineer future songs. Alas, I'm not sure how easy it would be to convince record producers of their value, but if you think fast you could get a microphone and record songs off your phone to 2000 era tech while the phone battery lasts. Would a wireless connection work? Maybe, then you could at least email them to yourself ( though I'm not sure modern audio codecs would work in 2000). Depending on your phone catalogue, you could either sell songs back to artists or just become the greatest songwriter and beats producer.

Same with books. Imagine if you had the last few Harry Potter books on your phone. Alas, the problem is getting them off the phone since the battery won't last while you manually transcribe them. Anyway, you could release the books yourself or sell them back to the proper author (I think GRRM would be thrilled to get the last few Game of Thrones books early, get those fans off his neck :P).


Turn off your phone to save the battery.

Find an old friend that you can trust and stay with them during your first few weeks in the past. Tell them the complete truth, using your knowledge of their past, your obvious increase in age, and your wallet contents to get them to believe.

Borrow a camcorder and use it to make a demonstration film of your phone. Write your friend's address on cassette's label and mail it to the Office of Bill Gates at Microsoft with a letter which reads...

This is the best selling mobile telephone from 2016, an age when personal computers have been all but replaced by devices like this. Despite your company's attempts to dominate the smart phone market over the next 15 years, this phone from the future has no Microsoft software running on it. I can help you change that.

This should lead pretty quickly to an in-person meeting with Mr. Gates. Hand over the phone and the flash drive as your opening move, before he even asks. Explain that his staff can maximize their value to both of you by reverse engineering their technology and patenting everything found. Then sit down and start telling him about the next fifteen years. Explain that you chose him because in your future he is known as much for his humanitarian efforts as for his business and technical success. Tell him that you trust that he will use whatever foreknowledge that you provide to minimize human suffering (including your own) while keeping Microsoft out ahead of its would be technical successors.

So now you are on a first name basis with the most powerful man on Earth and you are single handedly repsonsible for making him more successful both as a business person and a philanthropist. That is better than any amount of money and thus is the most selfish thing you could have done.


It would be very difficult to sell the phone and someone would eventually contact the authorities. You would probably end up in a psychiatric ward. Whatever story you come up with won't be believed. If you have the phone on you when taken in it will be confiscated. If a smart enough person like the psychiatrist in charge sees the phone then you are really in trouble. High level government officials will take you to a blacksite to be interrogated and your phone will end up at DARPA or some other r @ d facility. It won't take long for the interrogators to break you and learn the truth about you. From that point on your life will be spent in one laboratory or prison cell.


The amount of wealth that this time traveller can generate is dependent entirely on how much high value knowledge he can sell to everyone in the past, which is why i'm assuming you chose to send him to 2000AD rather than 1492. The answer is also dependent on what you define as wealth.

What prosperity is, where growth comes from, why markets work http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/31/capitalism-redefined/

Everyone else seems to have answered your specific question pretty well, so I won't go much further with it. But if you want to make this a broader question, and bring him back to other points in history as well, you can explore some really great questions.

As many of these other answers have explained, the wealth he could earn is very dependent on the context of the society he arrives in.

The fact that any "new" (stolen from the future) ideas he generates would be protected by the american system of copyright law isn't guaranteed if he ends up in some earlier society and immediately gets robbed or simply is forced to recall new inventions under duress from, say, King George I of England.

And This lack of structure still happens in most of the world

Why Capitalism succeeds in the west and fails everywhere else by Hernando De Soto


And that doesn't even begin to deal with what would happen if this time traveler was part of an unacceptable social group in the wrong time and place.

As others have said, his samsung phone and USB stick are only as valuable as the insights engineers in the past might gain from them. Without USB ports, or the technology to make them, or the software to interpret files saved on the USB, that 128 GB of storage might as well be 1Kb, or 0kb. Without a phone charger, electrical grid, or any knowledge of how to manufacture such a device, the phone becomes, at best, a general guide to what might eventually be manufacturable in the future.

Even then, the collective intelligence of whichever decade he arrives in will dictate how much his knowledge is worth. He might be head of engineering at samsung and he still wouldn't know everything about how to design, manufacture, and maintain a smartphone from scratch.


One thing nobody is really commenting on is how powerful your phone is compared to similar devices at the time.

I can't find the Samsung S7, but the Samsung S6 is about 35 GFLOPS of processing power.

That would equal about 20,000-40,000 in 2000 dollars, or a bit more in 2016 dollars, based on processing power alone. Not quite as much as it would have been worth in 1997 (where it would have gone for about $1 million), but certainly enough to get you started.


Joe needs to buy bitcoin for anything under 200USD and sell them before they peak around 1000USD

Joe will earn anything from 1000 to 5 times his money back on any dosh he makes. Joe can do this unleveraged and Joe can do this mostly anonymously.


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