More than 1,300 references compiled over one and a half years went into the time machine

By Alex Heigl
March 26, 2014 12:30 PM
Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

This is either the most genius pop culture toy we’ve ever seen, or the work of a madman. Maybe it’s both.

Joe Sabia spent a year and a half finding “every cultural real-life reference from every episode of The Office.” When you enter a year, the site finds pop-culture references from The Office that match that year. For example, searching 2006 yields a clip of Pam (Jenna Fischer) discussing The Devil Wears Prada, while 2009 prompts a scene in which Michael (Steve Carell) mentions Up, the animated film released that year. It’s far-reaching and wildly addictive.

Sabia’s motivation is far more academic than fanboy: He claims the “Time Machine is intended to show how much we rely on culture,” illustrating this reliance through our shared understanding of Shakespeare or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references.

There are approximately 1,300 references contained in the Time Machine. It’s a little staggering, and incredibly fun to explore. (Watch what happens, for instance, when you put in a future date.)

We expect to spend as much time playing with it as we did watching The Office.

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